Currency: Euro (€)
Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, has more casinos than any other capital city in the world – according to the world casino directory, it is home to 36 gambling dens.
This illustrates that gambling is quite popular in Estonia. This is despite the fact that for most of the 20th Century, when they were under Soviet rule, all games of chance were prohibited. However, illegal casinos did operate, just like in many former Soviet member States.
Estonia gained independence from the USSR in 1990. In 1995, their first Gambling Act was passed, creating the legal framework for a legal and regulated market. The 2008 Gambling Act gave foreign companies the opportunity to apply for licences in Estonia – more on that later.
Famous Estonian Poker Players
Since winning the 2019 EPT Barcelona €1,100 National event for €585,500 Markku Koplimaa is the number one live player from Estonia ($ 1,241,190) and he’s also leading the Estonian online player rankings ($7,409,723) with the PokerStars nick name ‘markovitsus’.
The second most successful Estonian online player is Aleksei ‘AS Leshiy’ Smirnov with a total of $3,233,638 in cashes across at least four sites.
Madis Muur sits in second place of the Estonian all time money list on HendonMob with $769,688 in live tournament winnings. In 2014, he finished 4th in the $10K Main Event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $581,040, which is by far his biggest single live tournament cash to date. He’s also an accomplished online MTT player with $361,000 in career earnings.
Ranno Sootla was the first from the small Baltic nation to win a WSOP gold bracelet. In 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic forced all World Series events to be played online, the Estonian cardplayer, playing under the screen name “RukKuRuku”, took down the $400 COLOSSUS event for $595,930.
– Playing Live Poker in Estonia –
Live Poker Legislation in Estonia
The Ministry of Finance and the Tax and Customs Board are in charge of licencing and regulating land based gambling in Estonia.
Estonian law differentiates between games of chance and games of skill when it comes to gaming licences. Unfortunately, poker is considered to be in the former category. Even poker tournaments are referred to as “tournaments of chance” in the legislation.
Live Poker Venue Estonia
The world famous Finnish poker pro, Patrik Antonius, decided to put on his own poker tournament series in April 2019. He chose Tallinn, Estonia as the location. The venue was the Hilton Tallinn Park. The Patrik Antonius Poker Challenge went swimmingly, however, that Hilton does not offer poker year-round to its patrons.
The Olympic Park Casino in Tallinn, on the other hand, hosts multiple tournaments each week. Buy-ins range from just €6 up to €110. They’re also hosting various tournament series constantly, such as the Kings of Tallinn, Tallinn Summer Showdown, the OlyBet Poker Series, and even the Swedish Poker Championship. There, you can find events with buy-ins as high as €330, €550 and €750.
As for cash games at the Olympic Park, they have €1/€1 and €2/€2 Dealer’s Choice. Higher games like €2/€2 PLO and €5/€5/€10 5-Card PLO tables available for their players on request.
The European giant casino chain Olympic has 6 other venues in Estonia: in the towns of Tartu, Narva, Pärnu and 3 more in the capital city of Tallinn.
Aside from Olympic, Grand Prix Casino also operates a number of gambling dens in Estonia – 8, to be exact, They usually put on events with buy-ins ranging from as little as €6 all the way up to €150.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Estonia –
Hilton Tallinn Park
Olympic Park Casino
Olympic Park Casino Tartu
Olympic Park Casino Narva
Olympic Park Casino Pärnu
Online Poker Legislation in Estonia
Online gambling was first regulated by the Estonian legislature in 2008, 13 years after the first Gambling Act dealt with land based gambling. The new laws came into effect in 2010.
The Estonian government had a very open and fair approach from the beginning: they allowed foreign-based gambling companies to apply for licences right away. However, out of the major online gambling brands, only PokerStars, Unibet and Bet365 are officially licenced in the country as of now.
Online gambling licencing and regulation are done by the Tax and Customs Board. You can find a list of the companies holding online gambling licences on their website here.
Olympic Park Casino Hilton Tallin
The Olympic Casino flagship Olympic Park Casino is located in the centre of Tallinn at the brand new Hilton Tallinn Park hotel.
Olympic Casino Ülikooli Tartu
The Olympic Casino Ülikooli Tartu is located in the very heart of the historic university town Tartu. It is decorated in a Rock’n’Roll theme for a fun atmosphere.
Olympic Casino Narva
Olympic Casino Narva Fama was opened in April 2013 and is located in the Narva Fama shopping centre. The poker room has 2 tables and hosts poker tournaments on Fridays and Sundays.