The casino properties in Estonia in 2005 included an aggregate of approximately 75 tables and just fewer than 2,200 slots. In the period from 1992 to 2005, fifty-seven casinos opened in Estonia, operated by fifteen different companies, the largest of which is the Olympic Casino Group, a subsidiary of the Benetreks Casino Group. Other significant companies are Eldorado (with seven properties) and Kristiine (with six properties.) The number of companies has led to substantial competition, which in turn has led to higher quality properties, and arguably higher levels of quality in service personnel, security and game offerings as well. The gaming tables operating in Estonia are controlled by only four of the operating companies. All other gaming operators provide only gaming devices in their casinos (or arcades.)
Casino development is predominantly located in the capital city Tallinn, which accounts for just under 27% of the nation’s population. In Tallinn there are nine casinos and 25 gaming machine arcades. The city of Tartu has the second largest concentration of casinos in the country with a total of ten.
Whether the market will be able to sustain this number of casinos is open for debate as this represents one casino (or arcade) for every 538 adult Estonians. However, the potential market is swelled by the influx of around six million visits by Finns to Estonia each year, primarily for leisure. Also, a recent study revealed that 17% of the population visited a casino in 2004.
During the 2002 review of gambling legislation, taxes were increased by nearly 60% to €273 per machine and €828 per table per month. The impact of this move was to reduce the number of devices in operation by just over 6%. However, this reduction was more than offset by the rise in the tax rate and the amount of revenue generated by gambling taxes increased from €6.3 million during 2001 to just over €9.1 million in 2002 in spite of relatively flat GGR growth.
Machine Gambling Outside Casinos
According to the Estonian Consumer Protection Board, a 2004 study revealed that 22% of Estonians gambled on gaming machines located in venues outside of casinos in 2004.
Spordiennustus, a joint venture between the Estonian Olympic Committee and Pafer, was established to promote sports in Estonia and to offer sports betting services. In 2004, Spordiennustus launched an internet betting site. (GBGC Report) Totalisaator is the company involved in the arrangement of horse races and is the organiser of other sport betting from Tallinn’s racetrack. It generates approximately EEK 7.5m (about €500,000) in annual turnover.
According to the 2004 Estonian Consumer Protection Board study, 7% of Estonians had bet on sporting events, and 2% had bet on a horserace or other events.
According to the Estonian Consumer Protection Board study, 18% of the population played Bingo in Estonia in 2004. However, this number may be misleading, because there is a high probability that people who answered this question were confusing bingo with the national lottery game called Bingo Loto. Traditional Bingo (played in bingo parlors) as a type of gambling is not well known in Estonia.
Media Gambling Services
Any prospective operator must have gambling as its only commercial activity. Therefore, media gambling is not permitted in Estonia.
Sales Promotional Gambling
No information was found or contributed by stakeholders approached as part of this research endeavor that allowed meaningful discussion of this sector.
Bristol, which has an annual turnover of EEK 7.5m (about €500,000), is a not-for-profit organisation and the second largest lottery organiser in Estonia. Bristol is involved in the launch of instant lotteries (about seven types), which are marketed in Estonia.
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