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Czech Republic To Lift Ban on Foreign Gambling Operators
- October 9, 2014 By Nemanja L. -
Czech Republic is set to introduce a new gambling bill by 2016 that would allow foreign gaming operators to offer their services online to the country residents, Deputy Finance Minster has confirmed.
Five domestic bookmakers dominate the gambling market in the central European country, with some of them offering online betting in addition to running land-based betting shops.
The country residents have gambled some $6.3 billion in 2012 alone, while the online market is seeing steady growth over the last few years.
Foreign online operators are only allowed to accept players from Czech Republic if they also run betting shops, but gaming companies such as Bwin.Party are not satisfied with such an arrangement due to the excessive costs of running offline operations.
While gamers from the central European country are subject to hefty fines for gambling at foreign websites, online operators from abroad are not allowed to advertise their services in the country.
Finance Ministry Hope to Get The Bill Passed by 2016
In an attempt to regulate a highly competitive market and boost tax revenue, the government plans to introduce a new gambling law that would allow licensed foreign companies to operate in Czech Republic.
The Finance Ministry is set to determine the tax rates and they plan the process to be completed by the end of the year.
“Users currently bet abroad, which several foreign companies make easier by introducing sites in Czech. According to our estimates, the state misses out on more than 1 billion crowns ($46.5m) a year in this segment,” Deputy Finance Minister Ondrej Zavodsky said.
Crackdown on Land-Based Betting Machines Planned as Well
The gambling bill, which is expected to be effective from 2016, is also designed to regulate fixed odds betting terminals in restaurants and gas stations across the country. According to the latest data, there are over 58,000 betting machines in land-based establishments and the ministry plans to cut the number in half.
Should the new law be passed, customs administration will be in charge of giving permission for gambling machines rather than the Finance Ministry, with individual municipalities given the power to determine which operators to accept or to ban gambling on their territory completely.
Under the new law, municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents will not be allowed more than one gambling room, whilst a casino can only open in an area with over 40,000 residents.
Persons under the age of 18 as well as people with a gambling addiction will not be allowed to play, with Finance Ministry also set to create a registry of players and a monitoring system that would see them review all the wagers made across the country.