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Czech Republic to Fight Gambling and Alcohol as Illegal Drugs
- December 17, 2014 By Oliver Young -
The Czech Republic announced its plans to start fighting gambling and alcohol as illegal drugs. The government of the country approved several changes in the Czech’s national strategy for addictive substances.
Jindřich Vobořil, the national anti-drug coordinator of the Czech Republic, said that Czechs have extremely high access to gambling facilities. He also pointed out that in 2013 there were 7.5 gambling machines per thousand inhabitants in the country. According to him, this number is much higher compared to neighbouring countries such as Germany, Poland and Slovakia.
Prague Post reports that the new strategy will be valid until the end of 2018 and one of the changes is the replacement of the word “drug” with the phrase “addictive substances and gambling.” This means that extra measures are going to be taken against the above mentioned activities.
Around 170,000 Adults Are at Risk of Becoming Problem Gamblers
The reason for making these changes are the disturbing information that show around 170,000 adults living in the Czech Republic are at risk of becoming problem gamblers. It is believed that 80,000 of these people may already have developed gambling addiction issues.
Obviously, Czechs gamble a lot both online and offline. Statistics shows that in 2012 a total of $635 million/€507.9 million in online bets were placed at online casinos or other online gambling operators that are licences and taxed. Experts believe that approximately the same amount of money was placed as wagers at untaxed foreign gambling sites.
The ministry hopes this new strategy to have positive effects on the people. Whether that will happen only time can tell and therefore in March 2019 there will be an evaluation of the results of the changes.
But They Will Lift Ban on Foreign Gambling Operators
Even though the Czech Republic is changing its approach when it comes to gambling, earlier this year the country announced lifting the ban on foreign gambling operators. According to the information that was confirmed by the Deputy Finance Minister, Czech Republic will pass a new gambling bill by 2016 that would give permission to online gambling operators to offer their services to Czech citizens.
The reports then showed that solely in 2013 Czechs succeeded to gamble around $6.3 billion and that the online gambling market was steadily growing. As Ondrej Zavodsky, the Deputy Finance Minister, explained people from the Czech Republic bet abroad regardless the regulations and the state misses out more than $46.5 million every year.
The bill also included a crackdown on land-based betting machines and that can be now seen as a sign of the latest changes in the national strategy for fighting addictive substances. According to the data that was provided then, the country had over 58,000 betting machines and the ministry had plans to cut the number in half.
However, whether all of the changes were made in order to really protect Czech citizen from negative effects of gambling or to secure bigger incomes for the state will probably stay a mystery.