The Latvian parliament has rejected amendments to the Law on Gambling and Lotteries which would have been used to limit gambling in the country.

Developed by members of the New Conservative Party and KPV LV, Saeima deputy Juris Jurašs urged other members of the parliament to support this legislative draft, commenting that approximately 80,000 people in Latvia suffer from gambling addiction, with 15,000 categorised as ‘severe’ problem gamblers.

He emphasised that the proposed amendments would become a ‘small step towards forming a healthier society’.

“Gambling halls in Latvia are a lasting disease that makes certain people rich, it needs to be treated,” he said.

Jurašs placed particular emphasis on the ‘critical’ nature of Latvia’s gambling situation. After the parliament had rejected the legislative draft, Saeima deputy Krišjānis Feldmans from the New Conservative Party wrote on his Twitter profile that Attīstībai/Par! party is a plague for Latvian politics, commenting how the party voted against limiting gambling.

During the voting process, 35 Saeima deputies voted in favour of passing the draft to the Budget and Finance Committee; 15 voted against and 27 deputies abstained. And so the legislative draft was rejected.

According to the 2016 study conducted by SKDS, 26 per cent of respondents who engaged in gambling in the past 12 months admitted to having situations when gambling took over so much of their life that the outside world ceased to exist to them for some time.

The legislative draft also proposed that casinos would only be permitted in four or five-star hotels in Latvia.

Deputies also proposed prohibiting alimony avoiders from engaging in gambling. The Maintenance Guarantee Fund Law already provides multiple restrictions for debtors to motivate them to fulfil their duties – pay alimony and provide their children with finances.