Czech Republic gambling legislation awaits Presidential approval

Czech Republic 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 Senate.

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.


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