Prague city council in September 2020 approved a ban on all technical gambling games in the capital. The ban, which includes slot machines, applies to all venues, even if they hold a licence.
The city-wide ban was due to come into full effect in 2024. This meant that venues could continue to offer technical games through to the end of their licences, with the longest of these running to this year.
Slot machines were still in place and operational in December. However, sources in Prague say removal of machines from venues has been ongoing since the start of the year. Some were still in place up until the end of January.
iGB reached out to the gambling regulation department and received confirmation that the ban came into full effect on 1 January. This means venues can no longer offer slot machine play legally.
Department director Martin Šabo also noted that authorities actually began enforcing the ban as far back as 2021. However, those venues that held a longer licence have been able to continue running machines in that time.
Slot machines are still legal and accessible in licensed venues outside Prague.
Online slots still accessible in Prague
The ban only applies to land-based slots, with online games still available to play in Prague. However, the same decree that led to the machine ban also updates regulations for online gambling.
Previously, online gambling sites without a licence were only classed as illegal if they were specifically targeting Czech players. This has now been updated to any website without a licence that is active and accessible in the country. This change came into effect on 31 December 2023.
However, in the statement to iGB, Šabo said this may not be the end of changes in the Czech Republic. Referring to a review from the office for the protection of economic competition (ÚOHS), this found the decree is “not entirely in line with the legal regulations concerning competition law”.
“We cannot exclude the possibility that further changes in the operation of gambling activities in Prague may occur in the future due to imposed fines,” Šabo said.
Prague authorities continue to clamp down on illegal operations
Despite full implementation of the ban, some venues have continued to run machines. This has led to customs officials in Prague taking action.
Last month, an investigation uncovered an illegally operated gambling hall in Střížkov in the Prague 9 area of the city. Officers found 16 pieces of technical gaming equipment being operated.
Technical devices with a total value of CK1.6m (£53,659/€62,867/$67,656) were seized, along with machine reset keys and cash.
Last year, customs officers carried out a total of 76 checks, discovering 14 illegal venues. In total, 45 machines were seized.