One of the disadvantages of Estonian licensed online casinos is that there are not too many of them. As a result, many players still prefer to take their cash and play at foreign casinos.
Please check our list of the best gambling sites in Estonia. Each online casino has been thoroughly checked by our in-house team of experts, which means you can be sure you are playing at a trustworthy casino.
If you want to find out more about Estonian casinos in general, and for more details about the legal status in the country, read on.
Gambling history in Estonia
Before 1991, Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, where gambling was illegal. Although the country gained independence in 1991, it remained annexed by the Soviet Union until 1994. It was only when the last of the Russians had left that the first gambling law was passed, the 1994 Lotteries Act.
Shortly afterwards, the 1995 Gambling Act was passed. These two gambling laws contributed to the legalisation of gambling in the country. Since then, Estonia has made a concerted effort to liberalise the gambling market, which has been growing steadily.
Although the Estonian gambling industry has been regulated since 1995, technological developments led to new gambling laws.
The economic crisis of 2007-2008 also prompted the government to introduce the 2009 Gambling Act. With this new development, the Estonian government introduced an operating licence for casinos operating in the country, but it still excluded offshore casinos. In 2011, the ban on foreign operators was lifted and they were finally allowed to obtain a licence.
The government also started a crackdown on unlicensed online casino websites offering their services to Estonians. These new developments hit land-based casinos hard and the number of local operators in the capital fell by more than 60%.
Gambling in Estonia today
Estonia currently stands out as a regulated gambling market. In addition, the country has harmonised with European gambling rules in an effort to welcome the best online casinos. The national operator must have a licence. However, Estonia does not recognise any licences offered by other jurisdictions.
In addition to the large operators licensed in Estonia, there are numerous local operators. Better still, Estonia officially supports the development of casino games locally. This is evidenced by local universities, such as the University of Tartu, which offer courses in casino game development.
Estonians play in both local and foreign casinos. However, players are advised to avoid unlicensed operators. Although there are many betting options for Estonian players, some of the best online casinos do not yet offer Estonian translation on their site.
So Estonians playing at international casinos will have to choose a language they are comfortable with or rely on browser translations. It is also worth noting that foreign tourists make up a significant number of online casino players in Estonia.
The future of online casinos in Estonia
While there is much to admire in the organisation of the Estonian gambling industry, there seems to be a desire to change the current laws. The current legislation seems to be quite favourable to all.
However, there could be initiatives to deal with the increasing number of unlicensed operators in the country. Currently, all the best online casinos and sportsbooks in Estonia have the possibility to have their licence fees reviewed, although they are lower than in other EU countries.
Due to the strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, local gambling revenues have plummeted. In the light of these developments, the Estonian government could consider offering some compensation, especially to affected land-based operators.
All things considered, the future of gambling is now online. It goes without saying, therefore, that the Estonian government could make significant developments to ensure full compliance with the online gaming landscape.