HOMEPAGE

Business

 

Game over: Czechia no longer the ‘casino of Europe’, slot machine bars disappearing

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

A decade ago, the Czech Republic had more gaming machines per capita than any other country in the European Union. But “one-armed bandits” have steadily disappeared from the nation’s dive bars following the introduction of new legislation and statues, and many municipalities have outright banned casinos.

 

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has all but declared victory in the battle to restrict, monitor – and collect taxes from – casinos and gaming machine bars. Over the past seven years, she told reporters, the number of casinos has dropped by three-quarters and the number of gaming machines by nearly half, to under 39,000 at last count.

“I’m definitely very satisfied with how things are going. The Czech Republic has ceased to be a casino in the heart of Europe. Since January 2012, the number of casinos is down from 7,600 to roughly 1,800 – one quarter as many. So that’s a great result.”

Minister Schillerová said this is proof that Gambling Law of 2017 is working. And while last year most brick-and-mortar casinos were re-licensed, they now operating under tougher restrictions which aim to fight addiction – and tax evasion.

Casinos are obliged to register players, for example, take breaks in the action, and help gamblers exercise self-control. Roman, a recovering gambling addict, told Czech Radio he wished such controls had been in place before his habit took hold.

“I was a compulsive gambler for 13 years. I tried every slot machine there is – fruit machines, roulette… I was also betting on everything. From Chinese ping pong to you name it. And then I starting going online.”

The Ministry of Finance is readying an IT system that will include a list of people banned from gambling. These including people on welfare, facing distraint or in bankruptcy proceedings, or – like Roman – are in treatment for addiction.

Meanwhile, concerns about compulsive gambling and criminal activity linked to casinos and gaming bars – considered eyesores by many property owners – have led 457 Czech municipalities to implement total bans on them.

Among them is the Prague 2 district, which includes Vyšehrad and parts of Vinohrady, New Town and Nusle. Several other Prague districts have announced “zero tolerance” for gambling and petitioned the Ministry of Finance to strip remaining outlets of their licences.

Lone slot machines in pubs and restaurants, previously permitted under so-called special regimes, have also all but disappeared nationwide. None will be re-licensed, Minister Schillerová vows.

But another legal battle remains, over so-called “kvizomats” – quiz or trivia machines – that have popped up in place of banned slot machines. Michal Varmuža, a lawyer representing kvizomat operators, argues they merely test knowledge.

“Our clients operate machines such Diamond Jewel or Hollywood Popcorn, where the only way to get some reward is to fulfil tasks or correctly answer questions. In our opinion, these are not gaming machines.”

Many kvizomat operators have refused to pay taxes imposed on gaming machines. But don’t bet on it lasting. Minister Schillerová says she has them in her sights, and over the past two years the Customs Administration has impounded about 3,000 of them.

 
 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 07.02.2019
 
 
 

Related articles

 
Business
 
 

Press: Czech economy sees slowest...

Czech economic growth in 2018 slowed to 3 percent, down from 4.5 the previous year, according to data...

 
 
Business
 
 

Ministry plans higher pensions and...

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is proposing an increase in old-age pensions next year...

 
 
Business
 
 

Record number of Czechs happy with...

A full four-fifths of Czechs are happy with the state of their country’s economy, the highest rating from...

 
 
Business
 
 

Auditors accuse tax authority of...

The Supreme Audit Office has highlighted a requirement imposed on corporate tax payers that may serve no...

 
Most favourite

History of Czech fine art

What happened in the realm of fine art at the very beginning of the Czech…

Climate

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical…

The most significant current discoveries

During the last decade, Czech science has made many revolutionary discoveries…

Czech language

The Czech language belongs to the group of West Slavic languages. From another…