Although Estonia has a small population, gambling is a favourite activity among the majority of the population. The gambling sector is, however, relatively young due to the political history of the country. When Estonia was still part of the USSR, all gambling activities were illegal. So, gambling was only legalised after the country attained independence. Gambling became legal in the 1994-1995 period when the first Lottery Act and the Gambling Act became the laws that govern gambling activities. From then, the gambling industry has been developing at lightning speed.
Due to evolution in the market, the first two laws became ineffective so, a better Gambling Act had to be adopted. Gambling Act of 2008 annulled the two previous acts, and it came into effect in 2009. It took into consideration online gambling.
As per the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, the body mandated to regulate gambling activities, all operators intending to operate in the country must obtain a license. Prospective operators are supposed to meet the minimum requirements regarding capital and license fees. This tighter regulatory requirement has locked out the smaller companies; the number of operators dropped from 5000 to 2000.
Online gambling became legalised in 2010. At this time, only Estonian companies were allowed to obtain licenses. Things changed when the country opened the door for offshore operators in 2011. At first, these foreign operators were required to maintain their servers within the country, but it was later repealed in 2012.
The new environment came with a new set of tighter regulations. Estonia has ordered all ISPs to block unlicensed sites from offering online gambling services to Estonian players. If anyone of them breaks the law, they are liable to pay a fine of up to 40,000 Kroons. The Olympic Casino brand was the pioneer in the online casino industry, but currently, there are about eight licensed online operators that offer online casino services. The government has blacklisted more than 800 others.