A proposed amendment to Czech gambling laws may soon prevent foreign online gambling groups from advertising within the Czech Republic. The Association of Betting Service Providers (APKS) hopes that the change will help reduce competition for local gambling operators, and ultimately bring in more revenue for the state.
According to estimates published by the APKS, the country’s online gambling industry is worth around 29 billion Kč (1.14 billion Euro) annually, but last year, 4 billion Kč (157 million Euro) went to foreign companies. Foreign groups that offer online gambling sites in the Czech Republic have a distinct advantage over locally-operated groups, since Czech laws require gambling operators to contribute 20 percent of their revenues to local charities – a requirement that foreign operators cannot be held to.
Radek Ležatka, a spokesman for the Czech Finance Ministry, explains: “These foreign online betting companies have no license from the Finance Ministry, and they pay no taxes in the Czech Republic, so we therefore support banning advertisement of foreign companies here”.
The new rules would not only ban foreign-hosted sites from advertising to Czech players, but would also try to keep such sites from offering services in the Czech language. The ultimate goal is to remove companies from the local gambling industry who profit without paying taxes or licensing fees.
“Foreign companies are a serious problem for us and put us at a real disadvantage. We hope the government will do something about it,” says Petr Šrain, spokesman for the Czech online gambling group Fortuna.
Even if the amendment passes through the local parliament, however, it still needs to be assessed by the European Commission. The situation surrounding internet gambling in the Czech Republic echoes the same situation faced by most other EU member states, and while recent court cases have begun to lay down precedents for dealing with cross-border online gambling, no firm rules have yet been established.