An unknown individual has made headlines in the Czech Republic, after the country’s prime betting company, SAZKA, announced that the winner of a Europe-wide lottery’s billion-crown jackpot was Czech. His luck may be seen by some as two-fold, because the win came before the expected arrival of new legislation taxing lottery winners.
Czechs spent a record sum on betting last year, placing bets worth 249.5
billion crowns. That’s a rise of just over 11 percent on the previous
year. Winnings paid out from bets came to over 218 billion crowns, an
increase of 18.4 percent.
According to the Czech Ministry of Finance, the number of casinos and gaming-machine bars has dropped to roughly 1,800 following the introduction of the new legislation and statutes.
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.
Since the new gambling law went into effect in 2017, the Finance Ministry
has imposed fines against online operators totalling 455 million crowns but
collected only a fraction of that amount – just 240,000 crowns – the
daily E15 reports.
In most cases, sanctions were imposed for operating a site without authorisation. According to the NMS monitoring centre for drugs and dependences, more than 500,000 people in the CR have a gambling problem.
Czechs spent a total of 196.4 billion crowns on betting in 2016, a 29 percent rise in the total spend compared with the previous year. Winnings paid out by betting companies came to 157.1 billion. That left around 40 billion crowns for the betting companies, around 10 billion crowns more than the previous year. Over the year there was an increase by around a third in the volume of bets made over the Internet.
Just a few years ago Prague had more casinos than Las Vegas. A restrictive law which came into force last year has seen their numbers dwindle, but it failed to address the problem of gambling, sending compulsive gamblers online and creating a new group of young addicts who have never set foot inside a gaming house. The head of the government’s National Anti-Drug Agency Jindřich Vobořil says the young generation has become the primary target of the gaming industry.
Civic Democratic Party Senator Veronika Vrecionová will file a complaint with the Constitutional Court over a law regulating the gaming business, which allows Finance Ministry employees to block web pages on suspicion that they are offering gaming online. The law was approved by the Senate in May of this year and signed by President Zeman in June. Senator Vrecionová, who has collected 21 signatures in the upper house in support of her complaint, says that rank-and-file ministry employees should not have the right to make such a decision and argues that the law opens the way to possible violations of freedom of speech.
National anti-drugs coordinator Jindřich Vobořil has warned of a rise in online gambling among the young. In his 2015 report on gambling addictions, Mr. Vobořil said online gambling had become a new phenomenon in the gambling industry. He said there was a dramatic increase in online gamblers among the young with 30 percent of people under 17 saying they had tried it. Earlier this year Parliament approved a law aimed at restricting online gambling which should come into force next year. The national anti-drugs coordinator said a restrictive policy must go hand in hand with prevention and treatment.
Czechs last year placed bets totaling 152.2 billion crowns. That’s a rise of just over 10 percent on the previous year. Winnings paid out from bets came to almost 122 billion crowns, an increase of just over 14 percent, leaving the betting companies with outright earnings of just over 30 billion. According to the Czech Ministry of Finance that is around a billion crowns down on the 2014 results.