President Milos Zeman has thirty days to decide whether to sign the country’s
new gambling act into law after legislation was approved by the country’s
The Czech Senate
passed the bill with a large majority, delivering it to President Zeman for
approval on June 1st. In total 42 senators voted in favour of the bill, with 23
abstaining and no votes cast against the legislation.
Under the new
legislation, foreign operators would no longer be banned from operating in the
Czech Republic. Licensees will be allowed to offer casino, poker, sports
betting, lotteries and bingo, provided they are registered in the European
Union or European Economic Area, both online and in land-based venues.
These companies will
face a hefty tax rate of 23 per cent of gross gaming revenue for lotteries and
sports betting, with this rising to 35 per cent for casino products.
Measures to ensure a
high level of consumer protection have also been included. Online sites must
display responsible gambling notices and links to help services, while deposit
limits, self-exclusion and permanent blocking must be offered to players.
A database of
self-excluded players will also be maintained, with gambling addicts also added
to this list to allow the government to monitor these individuals and offer
help where needed.
Advertising must warn
against the dangers of problem gambling, and must not appeal to minors.
Land-based venues also
face new restrictions, with opening hours of casinos and gaming halls limited,
and mandatory breaks in gambling sessions to be introduced. Gambling addicts
may even be offered the same treatment as drug and alcohol addicts to ensure
they can be given appropriate treatment.
Steps to stamp out
unlicensed operations will also be introduced, similar to those implemented in
other Eastern European markets, such as blacklisting companies without approval
to offer their services in the country. Payment processors will be fined should
they be found to have worked with blacklisted companies.
Those involved in
operating illegal gambling businesses or facilitating illegal gambling face
fines of up to Kč1m (€37,000), while gambling in establishments that sell food,
alcohol and tobacco has been banned. Breaches of this legislation can see the
perpetrators hit with Kč500,000 penalties.
Should President Zeman
decide to enact the legislation, the government will still be required to draw
up secondary technical regulations. Despite this legal sources have suggested
to Gaming Intelligence that the licensing process for prospective
operators could still be started ahead of these conditions being put in place.