The Estonian Tax and Customs Board
The Maksu-ja Tolliamet (EMTA), known to the rest of the world as the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (ETCB), is the taxation authority for the Republic of Estonia. Aside from the collection of taxes and customs duties, the authority carries out the licensing and regulation of gambling and lottery operations under the Estonian Gambling Act.
To conduct a gambling operation within or from Estonia, prospective operators must first seek EMTA approval for an Activity Licence, before making an Operating Permit application for each potential outlet. An Activity Licence is granted on an indefinite basis and serves as the vetting process of prospective casino owners and shareholders. In turn, once an Activity Licence is approved, the operator can apply for an Operating Permit, specific to the business in question.
The average term of an Operating Permit ranges from a maximum of 5 to 20 years according to the category of the game on offer. Most online casino content, such as slots or live casino games, falls under remote gambling games of chance, for which the maximum permit term is 5 years before renewal. Several sites can register under a single Remote Gambling Permit, which is issued following an approval process of two to four months.
The 2009 Estonian Gambling Act
Passed in 2008, the Estonian Gambling Act came into force in 2009. The act superseded previous legislation laid out by the Gambling Act of 1995 and the Lottery Act of 1994. With the sole purpose of modernising outdated legislation, the Gambling Act meets the needs of online gaming in Estonia, as opposed to the former, land-based-focused ruleset.
The act is guided by three principles. The first is to set out clear and detailed requirements for gambling operators. Secondly, the act seeks to provide adequate measures for player protection. Lastly, the Estonian Gambling Act is designed to combat the negative consequences of gambling and its impact on society.
The resulting landscape has witnessed a steady rise in popularity, putting the gambling licence of Estonia under the casino operator spotlight. Players are spoiled with all manner of casino promotions, the latest content, and high-speed payments. Adding fire to the fuel, an increasingly competitive jurisdiction sees casinos scrambling to sign offshore players as well as the home crowd.
Consequently, players can find thrilling offers after thrilling offers, including real money cashback, no-nonsense wager-free spins, deposit match bonus offers, generous welcome bonuses, live casino and sports betting cashback, plus a whole host more. What’s more, dynamic loyalty schemes and tailored VIP programs compete to attract high-rollers.
Another benefit is that the Estonian licence has become a hotbed for Pay N Play casinos. Due to the automatic player verification achieved via open banking, Pay N Play services benefit both the player and the casino. Player verification is mandatory under the Estonian Gambling Act, therefore, certain licencing requirements are automatically satisfied for Pay N Play casinos, alongside streamlined gaming and instant withdrawals for players.
What to Expect from an Estonian-Licenced Casino
Under the watchful eye of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, players can expect to play in a safe and regulated environment where operations conform to uniform standards. Players are safeguarded against rogue operations by way of the application vetting process and audits thereafter.
In addition, each business is monitored periodically to maximise player protection. As a result, Estonian online casinos adhere to rigorous data protection and anti-fraud procedures, designed to stop crime from penetrating operations. Consequently, you can expect identity and verification requests at some point in your journey.
Regarding content, Estonian-licenced casinos are much like any other. The jurisdiction is home to leading names in game development like Evolution Gaming, Blueprint, and Big Time Gaming, as well as rising stars like Nolimit City and Hacksaw Gaming.
Scores of banking options exist at Estonian Casinos. The Estonian licence has become home to fast-paying casinos advertising instant withdrawals and automatic verification like Pay N Play from Trustly, or rival services by Brite, Klarna and Zimpler. Another key point is that the Estonian licence is crypto-friendly with some casinos allowing transactions and gaming in cryptocurrencies with digital wallets.
Besides the expected rules laid out by the Estonian Advertising Act regarding misleading or underage advertising, EMTA casinos are largely free to entice players as they choose. Therefore, Estonian casinos are jam-packed with ad-hoc deposit offers, player tournaments, competitions and incentives, rewarding loyalty schemes, plus exclusive VIP treatment for high-rollers.
Responsible gambling at Estonian Casinos comes in the form of facilities for taking a break or blocking account access from the casino in question. Under current guidelines, Estonian-licenced casinos in 2024 must provide contact information for lines of support as well as the ability for a player to self-exclude and be placed on the Gambling Self-Exclusion List held by the ETMA.