International operators will have the free way to acquire licenses but the taxes will be considerably higher.
All eyes in the Czech Republic were on their president Miloš Zeman yesterday, as he signed the amendments to the Gambling Act from 1990. These amendments are not only about to introduce many changes to the Czech gambling market but in the whole country as well. On one hand the new bills allow international operators to acquire local licenses, but on the other hand they introduce higher taxes on gambling and give the power to the Ministry of Finance to block any undesired gambling website. The new regulations, which have already caused controversy and turmoil, are expected to be effective as of January 2017.
Licenses Come At a Cost
Last week the amendments to the gambling law were introduced and put to vote in front of the senate. The new regulations were voted unanimously by the 42 members while 23 abstained from voting. The amendments proposed lifting the ban on international operators and allowing EU and EEU providers to compete for local licenses. While this is a huge step forward for the Czech gambling industry and therefore economy, it might not be so beneficial for the operators themselves. The first hurdle for them will definitely be the higher taxes introduced by these new regulations. Actually, on top of the regular 19% taxes the operators will bear the tax expenses of 35% for casino games and live casinos and 23% of gross gaming revenue for sports betting and lotteries. The international operators who get the license will have the opportunity to learn more about the new regulations through a series of seminars which will be organized by the Ministry.
Protection or Censorship?
The most controversial part of the new legislation is the amendment that gives the power to the Ministry of Finance to block unauthorized websites in order to deal with illegal gambling. Moreover, in the attempt to deal with the problem of gambling addiction, the Ministry can block bankrupt individuals or the ones who receive financial assistance from the state, while the players will also have the ability to block themselves. This decision has encountered harsh criticism deeming it as an act of censorship. The very idea of this new regulation caused negative reactions even before they were signed by the president so the government websites were soon attacked by hackers. Also, many experts believe that this new legislation is unstable and that the blocking can easily be circumvented.