Prague, Czech Republic- The Czech Republic has taken encouraging steps to improve the safety and security of its online gaming industry with the launch of its own exclusion register.
The Czech Ministry of Finance has confirmed the new register, which will enable online bettors to restrict themselves from accessing iGaming platforms when their betting becomes too much. It’s all part of the Czech iGaming industry’s drive for responsible gaming, ensuring that players have fun and enjoy themselves within their own financial limits.
Early-stage pilot begins this month
The scheme kick-started on September 15 with a pilot, enabling Czech customers to sign up to the register and shield themselves from accessing iGaming portals and even land-based casinos throughout the Czech Republic. The pilot scheme closes on 20th December, upon which all licensed iGaming and land-based casino operators in the country will also be required to sign up to the scheme, restricting access to their services for those on the exclusion register.
From 20th December, the onus will be on online casinos and land-based operators to determine whether a user is on the exclusion register. All new customers from this point will be checked against the register to ensure they are able to play and use their new accounts. Furthermore, problem gamblers may also be signed up to the exclusion register by third-party organisations, if they believe it is in the individual’s interests to do so. Those who are being treated for addiction issues, are playing unsustainably, or have filed for bankruptcy will be added.
Legislation which shields the nation’s most vulnerable customers
Alena Schillerova, the Czech Minister of Finance, said that the register means it will also “no longer be possible” for individuals claiming welfare payments from the Czech state to deposit these “in gaming machines”. Ms Schillerova believes the new register will have a profoundly positive impact on bettors and their loved ones, with the ability to “exclude vulnerable groups or pathological gamblers” from the temptation of unsustainable gaming.
Since 2016, when the legislation on interactive gambling came to fruition, the Czech Republic has become a hotbed for the best online casino gaming. It has witnessed other major iGaming hubs like North America embrace exciting table game variants like online live casino, with its engaging games managed in real-time by professional dealers.
The surge in popularity around variant online casino games has led to the Czech government take a new approach to taxation on gambling too. A new three-tier structure will tax betting games at different rates based on the level of risks involved to players. Since January 2020, all live games, bingo games and lottery games have been taxed at 30%, while fixed-odds betting terminals have also seen taxes rise from 23% to 25% respectively.
Key points of note on online gaming in the Czech Republic
Land-based casinos were few and far between just over a decade ago. Between 2009 and 2012 there were no more than five casinos in operation. Since then, there has been an explosion of new casino resorts throughout the nation, with more than 100 now in operation here. As the Czech Republic is also a member of the EU, the country must also accept access to iGaming operators that may be licensed in other member states, even if they don’t have a local Czech gaming licence.
More recently, the Czech government has been permitted to enforce additional restrictions on online casino operators. Operators licensed in the Czech Republic may no longer provide bonuses, free bets or promotions such as free spins on slot games. Interestingly, other iGaming operators licensed elsewhere in the EU have therefore taken the approach to restrict Czech players from such promotions.
Prague’s blanket approach to land-based slot machines
The Czech capital of Prague has also made a huge statement of intent regarding the future of land-based slot machines within its city. The Prague City Council recently opted to confirm a new decree prohibiting the availability of “technical gambling games”, which sees slot machines fall under this umbrella, from 2024.
The City Council’s lawmakers voted to bring a stop to the use of mechanical, electro-mechanical and electronic slot games as well as video lottery machines. City councillor Hana Kordova Marvanova confirmed that the move was designed to limit “the most dangerous forms” of gaming, which they feel includes slot gaming. In many ways, Prague is merely following the lead of other Czech towns and cities, with the likes of Ostrava, Brno and Kyjov all opting to ban land-based “technical gambling” in its entirety.
It has been confirmed that the ruling will represent a fall in revenue for the city by 400 million Kc (around 15 million €) in terms of annual tax income. These taxes have thus far been used towards cultural and social affairs for the people of Prague, but the City Council voted to approve the decree and find new ways to finance the “needs of important public activities”, according to Marvanova.
In terms of online gambling activities, the Czech Republic has embraced a wide array of games in recent years. Aside from online slots and lottery games, there are classic card games such as blackjack and baccarat that have attracted significant followings. Texas Hold’em poker is also a major player in the Czech Republic, with the country playing host to a string of major circuit tournaments offline. Meanwhile its sports betting industry is on the rise too, with sports betting revenues throughout the nation up 15.8% in 2019 to 8.2 billion Kc (around 320 million €).