A referendum held this Saturday on whether to ban gambling in the town of Olomouc has been declared invalid due to a low turnout. The turnout was a mere 8.2 percent with just 6,689 people taking part. Of those 6, 389 voted in favour of a ban. Paradoxically 9,000 townspeople signed a petition for the referendum to be held.
Poker tournaments are a form of gambling, the Czech Constitutional Court has ruled, rejecting an appeal by the Czech Poker Association. The group contested an interpretation of the country’s legislation, applied by the authorities since 2012, which regulated poker tournaments and required their organizers to get licences from the Finance Ministry. The court argued that chance was a crucial factor in poker, making it gambling rather than a game. In a reaction, the poker association said this means poker can only be played in casinos.
In the Czech Republic, the use of illicit drugs such as pervetin (methamphetamine) rose significantly over the last ten years but it is the abuse of a legal substance, alcohol, which presents an even bigger problem. Those are two of the main findings in an annual report just released about the state of drug abuse in the country.
The annual report for drug abuse in the Czech Republic for 2013, presented by national anti-drugs coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, has shown that the number of long-term pervetin (methamphetamine) users in the country has increased significantly over the last 10 years. In 2003 there were around 18,800 addicts while last year the number was 34,200. The anti-drugs coordinator stressed that the abuse of legal substances, namely alcohol, remains a major problem, estimating the country had at least 500,000 alcoholics. The head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, Viktor Mravčík, revealed that annually between 30 and 40 people overdose on opiates, pervetin or other illicit drugs, while around 300 people die from alcohol poisoning.
Czech and German police have broken up an international pervitin producing gang, which operated in Prague and Leipzig. The German Federal Criminal Police Office made the announcement on Thursday. It said German police arrested seven people, who were found in possession of 2.9 tonnes of chlorefedrine, a chemical drug used for manufacturing pervitin. That quantity would be sufficient to make 2.3 tonnes of the drug, which could be sold on the black market for roughly five billion crowns (184 million Euros).
Pharmacies in the Czech Republic have begun selling medical marijuana on prescription. So far the drug – which goes for around CZK 300 a gramme – is available only at one chemist’s in Prague and one in the south Moravian town of Uherské Hradiště. The marijuana, which was legalised last year, can only be acquired using an electronic prescription and is provided to people suffering from multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and other ailments.
The Spanish police are reported to have arrested four Czech nationals caught smuggling 369 kilograms of cocaine on a boat heading for the Canary Islands. The boat was sailing from South America under a Czech flag and the drugs were hidden in a number of secret compartments. The four offered little resistance and the boat was towed to port in Las Palmas.
The Czech Republic will step-up its efforts to fight all forms of addictions including drinking and smoking, National Anti-Drugs Coordination Centre head Jiří Vobořil told journalists on Thursday. Mr. Vobořil said that in the past the accent was on fighting drug additions with drinking, smoking and gambling getting significantly less attention. The authorities are particularly concerned about the number of young people who drink and smoke regularly ranking the country among the worst in Europe.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has unveiled details of a bill introducing strict regulation of gambling in the Czech Republic. The new rules would push slot machines away from regular pubs and bars and introduce betting limits. The ministry also plans to create a database of gamblers to prevent addicts or those in debt from gambling. The draft legislation should enter into force in January 2016.
The Finance Ministry has unveiled the details of an amendment to the gambling law. The draft bill aims to reduce gambling outlets around the country and severely tighten regulations governing the business. Most significantly it would ban slot machines in restaurants and at petrol stations frequented by pathological gamblers and introduce a central register of gamblers which would deny certain people, for instance addicts undergoing treatment, access to gambling bars and casinos. The bill sets a limit of one gambling bar per 1,000 inhabitants and would only allow casinos in towns of 40,000 or more inhabitants. If approved it would reduce the number of gambling bars and casinos in Prague, now at around 1,000, by a half.