Gambling within the Czech Republic is an extremely popular form of entertainment that has a major stake in economic output. In 2015 alone, the gambling market, and related products, have totalled approximately 3.5% of the annual output totalling a massive $5.8 billion. The largest portion of these earnings were spent on video slot machines and traditional slots in land-based casinos.
A change in online gambling laws
Online gambling around the world is a tricky subject that is either fully embraced or shunned due to fear of economic repercussions or lack of interest. While many countries are pushing for the legalisation of online gambling (and failing) some headway has been made in the Czech Republic.
After a delay in January 2016, the Czech lower house finally approved the new online gambling legislation early in April 2016. The new laws will see many changes being made throughout the gambling industry including being open for business to international online betting operators as well as opposing new tax laws.
The bill, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, will also give power to the Finance Minister regarding which online betting sites will be deemed illegal or not. If the Finance Minister considers any foreign gambling site to be illegal, it will be shut down.
New tax laws
Along with the opening of the Czech Republic online gambling market, the new bill also intends to raise taxes for already existing companies that offer gambling services. The raise in taxes has caused controversy throughout the gambling industry already established in the Czech Republic with many feeling that the increase is unfair.
Slot machine operators look to take the hardest knock with the new levies which will see an increase from their current rate of 28% to a steep 35%. The fact that other areas of the gambling sector such as sports betting and lotteries will not receive an increase and will instead maintain their current rate of 23% has further added fuel to the fire.
The Finance Minister has already estimated that once the bill is rolled out in 2017, the country will see an increase in revenue of more than 1.5 billion crowns (approximately $62 million).
While video slot machines and traditional slots hold the number 1 in terms of popularity, the handful of gambling firms which currently operate in the Czech Republic are more focused on sports betting. The gambling companies that are currently licensed by the State Supervision of Gambling and Lotteries Department of the Ministry of Finance include Sazka, Synot Tip, Chance, the Fortuna Entertainment Group, and Tipsport.