Poker in Latvia

Poker in Latvia

Imagine standing before an endless tranquil sea, with a forest behind you. This is Latvia - a small but beautiful country on the shores of the Baltic Sea. It's an excellent destination for a summer trip, where you can enjoy delicious food, a comfortable climate, and legally play poker in Latvia, both on and offline.

Some time ago, Latvia was a significant hub for gambling in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, now only remnants of luxurious casino halls remain. Meanwhile, online poker enthusiasts have quickly relocated to neighboring Estonia, attracted by the recent absence of a tax on winnings.

Currently, more than 1.8 million people live in Latvia, but in the capital, Riga, there is only one legal casino, the Olympic Voodoo Casino. It's a popular center for playing poker, with cash game tables available, as well as poker tournaments. According to Latvian laws, people aged 18 and over are allowed to participate in gambling activities. Upon entering the casino, you'll be asked to fill out a form and will then be issued a personal card at no charge.

Olympic Voodoo Casino Latvia
Olympic Voodoo Casino

If desired, for €100, you can reserve your own poker table for you and your friends. A dealer will be provided for 1.5 hours of play, and poker beginners will be taught the rules of poker.

Not far from the Olympic Voodoo Casino is the luxurious building of the former Europa Royale Casino. Ten years ago, you could test your luck in an expensive game in an aristocratic atmosphere. Unfortunately, after changes in legislation, the casino was forced to close, and now its premises are used as a hotel.

Europe Royale Casino Latvia
Europa Royale Casino

In contrast to the casino sector, bookmakers in Latvia are experiencing more favorable conditions. Legal bookmakers such as Optibet and OlyBet invite you to visit sports bars across Riga and Jūrmala. There, you can watch a football match, try pasta with local seafood, and place bets at terminals located within the venue.

These brands also offer legal online poker in Latvia. Leading the local online poker segment is OlyBet. This room is part of the GGPoker Network, where a vast number of tables and tournaments are accessible 24/7. Latvian players automatically pay a 23% tax on funds withdrawn for winnings over €3,000. Should a player be fortunate enough to win more than €78,100, the tax rate increases to 31%.

For comparison, in neighboring Estonia, a mere four-hour drive to the capital, the tax on winnings in 2024 is 6%, set to rise to 7% in 2026. The difference in tax rates has pushed many poker enthusiasts to relocate to the neighboring country, hence why you'll often hear Latvian spoken at gaming tables in Estonian Pärnu and Tallinn.

Considering the proximity of the Baltic capitals, you could plan a poker tour between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. These three countries can be visited in just a few days, allowing you to enjoy their distinctiveness and uniqueness. Each country will surprise you with its language, nature, and excellent food. You'll have the opportunity to play poker both online and offline legally, participating in local poker tournaments.

Legal Online Poker in Latvia

Poker has been legal in Latvia since 2006. Currently, OlyBet, Optibet, and BetSafe have received licenses to operate within Latvia. The websites of other poker rooms may be blocked by local providers at the authorities' request. Legal poker rooms automatically deduct a 23% tax on funds withdrawn.

Legal Casinos

The Olympic Voodoo Casino operates in Riga, along with its branch at the Kempinski Hotel. In the city center, on Tērbatas Street, you can find a new poker club, Spelet.

The city is also home to numerous sports bars, where terminals for placing online bets are installed. On the outskirts, you can encounter rooms with slot machines. Sports bars and rooms with machines are also visible in other popular tourist cities such as Jūrmala and Sigulda.

Famous Players from Latvia

The most successful player from Latvia is Aleksejs Ponakovs, whose gameplay you could see on the PokerListings channel on YouTube. Aleksejs started playing in 2011 with success in a tournament with a €143 buy-in at the Olympic Casino.

Poker in Latvia: Aleksejs Ponakovs
Aleksejs Ponakovs

Over the next 13 years, he has earned about 15 million dollars in poker tournaments, winning WPT, EPT, PGT titles. He owns WSOP and WSOP Online bracelets. Aleksejs is often seen at the final tables of expensive tournaments on GGPoker.

What to Visit?

If you've followed our advice and decided to visit the three Baltic capitals—Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn—consecutively, you'll only have a few days to explore each city. In Riga, you can stay at the luxurious renovated Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga, located in the center of the city, close to the main tourist area—the Old Town. In this hotel, you can visit a high-quality SPA, good restaurants, and a small casino on the first floor.

If you wish to participate in an evening poker tournament, the walk to the Olympic Voodoo Casino will take only about 12 minutes. On your way, you will see the Latvian National Opera house, the Freedom Monument, and the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ.

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