Estonia’s 2009 Gambling Act provides many benefits to the country’s industry sector in 2021

November 10, 2021

Gambling is an extremely popular pastime for citizens of Estonia, which is why it is no surprise that the activity is one that is widely accepted within the eastern European country and why it is an industry that has continued to undergo a number of different regulations and gambling laws throughout history. Indeed, the vast majority of gambling forms has been made legal to participate in within the country, with sports betting, bingo, casino games and even horse racing all permitted and available to residents.

According to figures that have been provided by the Republic of Estonia Tax and Customs Board, as of July 2020, there were 20 operators with gambling licenses in Estonia, including 16 online, 14 sports betting, 3 casino, 1 ship, and 1 “games of skill”, with around 80% of the adult population having wagered at least once in their lifetimes. Online gambling has continued to expand over the years, as well, with the country becoming rather favourable with it, as they have allowed for an increase of domestic and international platforms to operate. 

Estonia turned to online gambling because of economic crisis

Since 2009, when the Gambling Act was introduced, bettors have also been able to wager using crypto gambling platforms as the country looked to try and recover from the great financial crisis that was experienced around the world in 2008.

Similarly, the 2020 financial crisis that the entire planet suffered from had a detrimental impact on the number of physical brick-and-mortar establishments in Estonia as the 57 venues that existed in 2016 had decreased by three. It appears to have been a move that provided the country with plenty of encouragement to do, as they made a number of decisions that could be considered to have been rather quick compared to what many other countries will have made.

For instance, the first decision that they took was to legalise online gambling in 2010, however this would only be applicable to local operators. However, just 12 months later in January 2011, the eastern European nation decided to open its doors to international operators, although with the proviso that they acquire an Estonian licence in order to do so.

The 2009 Gambling Act revolutionised the Estonian gambling market

Although it may have been introduced over a decade ago, the 2009 Gambling Act truly revolutionised the Estonian gambling market and truly modernised it in a way that is still feeling the benefits to this day. Part of the legislation was for casinos and slots halls to have a minimum of 40 slot machines and/or 5 tables in which bettors could play, thus bringing the industry up to date, whilst the nation was provided with the opportunity to regulate a number of games that they had not been able to before.

Online gambling, poker tournaments and other gambling events were able to be regulated for the very first time and with poker being the most popular card game in the country, it provided the nation with the chance to earn a significant amount of revenue through a new taxation scheme. Currently, there is a 5% tax for sports betting and online gambling operators within the country which has to be considered extremely low. However, there are other benefits that could immediately be felt by the legalisation of the sector in 2010. Operators were able to acquire entry to the EU market whilst remaining remote, as well as obtaining a 20-year licence.


It is clear that Estonian gambling laws and regulations have undergone a number of significant changes over the last decade, with each of them having had a huge impact on the current outlook of 2021. The country is incredibly favourable for all operators around the world, whilst it has proven to be a great additional revenue stream that has helped the nation to bounce back and grow its own economy in times of need.