Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Czechia

Gambling activities in the Czech Republic are legalized, and the number of traditional casinos spread throughout the country exceeds 100. According to the official statistics of the Czech Ministry of Finance, the total revenue from home gambling market came to CZK 39.8 billion (USD 1.77 billion) in 2017 (https://calvinayre.com/2018/06/28/business/czech-online-gambling-market-spikes/). The casino revenue in 2017 amounted to EUR 240 million (https://www.statista.com/statistics/545559/casino-gaming-revenue-czech-republic/).

The Czech Republic used to have more slot machines per capita than any other European country, but following the introduction of new legislation (2017), more than 450 Czech municipalities implemented total bans on slot machines. Revenue from regulated gambling in the Czech Republic fell 21.3% in 2018 to CZK 31.3 billion (USD 1.4 billion), the decline due to a lower contribution from slot machines (https://www.igamingbusiness.com/news/slot-decline-hits-czech-gambling-market-2018). The so-called “kvizomats” (quiz machines) popped up in place of banned slot machines.

Laws and Regulators

The new legislative framework for gambling was introduced in 2017. Act No. 186/2016 Coll. (https://www.mfcr.cz/cs/legislativa/legislativni-dokumenty/2016/zakon-c-186-2016-sb-25992), On Gambling (abbreviated as ZHH), regulates gambling in the Czech Republic. The key aims of the new law are stricter state supervision, taxation, sanctioning illegal gambling operators, and the elimination of compulsive gambling.

For the first time, ZHH introduced complex regulation for online gambling.  In accordance with the law, the legal gambling age in the country is 18. All information and data related to gambling operations must be provided in Czech. Gambling is prohibited at schools and facilities for children and youth as well as at health-care and religious facilities.  ZHH also specifies all forms of legal gambling.

The Czech Ministry of Finance is the body responsible for regulating gambling and granting licenses. The Ministry of Finance provides timely information on gambling legislation, legal operators, and other gambling issues on its official website (https://www.mfcr.cz/cs/soukromy-sektor/hazardni-hry). Department 73 (Procedures and Gambling Regulation) within the Ministry of Finance examines the issues in the area of gambling, analyzes its current situation in the country, and supervises the observance of ZHH. It also maintains a register of individuals excluded from gambling and a list of unauthorized online operators. The list of legal gambling operators is published on the Ministry’s website every month (https://www.mfcr.cz/cs/soukromy-sektor/hazardni-hry/prehledy-a-statistiky/prehledy-legalnich-provozovatelu-whiteli/2019/seznam-legalnich-provozovatelu-hazardnic-36311).

Land Based Casinos

In accordance with ZHH, most land-based casinos were re-licensed in 2018. There are at least 20 casinos in Prague. Casinos operate throughout all the territory of the Czech Republic. They are numerous in hotels and resorts. Casinos offer poker, casino games, and various slot machines. The law prohibits complimentary food or drink. Casinos allow free entry. ZHH requires casinos to verify the identity and age of each of their visitors on entering a casino, so visitors must show their passport or Schengen ID. The individuals who are under 18 are not allowed to enter a casino. Casino operators keep daily records of all visitors. Casinos are also obliged to help gamblers exercise self-control.

Online Gambling

Online gambling has been fully legal and regulated in the Czech Republic since January 2017. Online gambling generated CZK 8.3 billion (USD 370 million) in 2017, representing about one-fifth of the overall gambling market. Revenue from online casinos, which Czech operators were not allowed to offer until the country revised its gaming law, totaled over CZK 2 billion (https://calvinayre.com/2018/06/28/business/czech-online-gambling-market-spikes/).

Foreign operators must be registered in the country and pay taxes. Unlicensed websites are blocked. Individuals who participate in online games in the Czech Republic while being residents in another country are treated like Czech residents. In accordance with ZHH, the age and identity verification are mostly done via OpenID services, or players can be asked to provide a copy of their ID, or other official document proving that they are 18 and older.

Imposing a new gambling regulatory structure resulted in most internationally licensed online operators exiting the market rather than paying the new taxes. A few international operators began coming back. PokerStars (https://www.pokerstarslive.com/ept/prague/) and PartyPoker (https://en.partypoker.cz/) are active international operators who have been granted new Czech licenses.

The list of unauthorized online operators is published on the Ministry of Finance website (https://www.mfcr.cz/cs/soukromy-sektor/hazardni-hry/seznam-nepovolenych-internetovych-her/2019/zverejnovane-udaje-ze-seznamu-nepovoleny-35797).

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