Estonia is likely to become the next European nation to propose the enforcement of a blanket ban on gambling advertising.
This development follows last week’s agreement on a new ‘centrist’ coalition government formed by the Reform Party, the Social Democrats, and the Eesti 200 Party.
The Baltic nation will continue to be led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who has outlined strengthening Estonia’s defence and security against Russian threats as the utmost priorities.
Having been sanctioned on Monday, the Coalition has yet to disclose its joint policy agenda. However, Estonian news sources report that its members favour adopting tougher restrictions on gambling advertising to mirror those of other European nations.
The call for a blanket ban on gambling advertising is led by Lauri Läänemets (SDE), who will return to government as Minister of the Interior.
In an interview with public broadcaster EER, Läänemets warned that a curb on gambling advertising was required to combat problem gambling addictions, stating, “We all know how much harm this does to society.
“People with gambling addiction often cannot break the cycle. It breaks up families, and I would venture to say that the damage resulting from problem gambling can be significantly greater for society.” Estonia’s existing advertising laws have been criticized as too lenient for gambling operators “as sports betting gets advertised from morning to night.”
Favouring an outright ban, Läänemets acknowledged potential conflicts with sports stakeholders and their existing partnerships, such as Tallinn’s Saku Hall being named the Unibet Arena.
EER reported, “The new coalition says it also hopes to strengthen gambling addiction counseling to offer help to those in difficult situations as a result of the practice, along with their dependents.
“The coalition agreement includes a clause referring to a ban on online gambling ads and payday loan ads.”
Tõnis Rüütel, Director of the Estonian Gaming Operator Association (EHKL), defended Estonian operators, stating that they had observed rules overseen by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA).
Rüütel noted that Estonian operators were willing to work with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to modernize advertising laws, adding that “meetings with the board’s director, Kristi Talvingo, were going to take place.”
The trade body stands by the success of Estonia’s online gambling sector, which is home to the multi-million Euro businesses of Optibet (Entain Plc), Yolo Group, and CoolBet.