Riga bans gambling houses, except luxury ones, in historical center

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The Riga City Council's committee on security, public order and corruption prevention on May 22 upheld the suggestion to ban gambling halls in the city's historical center, with the exception of four- and five-star hotels, the Riga City Council said.

The committee at an extraordinary meeting voted unanimously in support of the city council's draft resolution aimed at fulfilling a separate decision by the Supreme Court in the case about a permission to open a gambling hall in Riga and the regulations about the city's historical center.

The committee chairman, Dainis Turlais (Honor To Serve Riga), said during the meeting that during its last two four-year terms the Riga City Council had not granted any permissions for opening new gambling halls not only in the historical center but the entire city. The gambling operators have complained to the court with different results.

Now he said he welcomed the separate decision by the Supreme Court which encouraged the local council not just to keep refusing to issue new permissions but also to close some of the existing gambling halls. Turlais also voiced hope that other courts would take into account the Supreme Court ruling in question.

The ban on gambling in the city's historical center will take effect upon its adoption at the Riga City Council meeting on May 23.

The historical center of Rīga includes the old town, as well as a number of central streets preserving historic heritage like wooden and Art Nouveau buildings.

The May 22 Supreme Court decision gave Rīga three months to inform the court over the city's decisions and actions to implement rules adopted in 2006 regarding a ban on gambling houses in the historical center, reported LTV.

The first of the gambling houses - there are 30 in central Rīga - could be closed within five years.

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