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Czech Republic fine-tunes Gambling Act with new amendments

| By Marese O'Hagan
A draft amendment to the Czech Republic's Gambling Act looks to fine-tune the country's current legislative measures.
Czech Republic gambling

The proposed amendments follow a review of the Czech Republic’s Gambling Act, in force since 1 January 2017.

The Impact Assessment of the Regulation of the Act on Gambling and Related Legislation (RIA) aims to increase player safety and keep crime out of the market, while expanding legal gambling options.

Pressing the panic button

To better protect players land-based and online licensees must prominently display a new panic button feature for players. When activated, this immediately blocks players from gambling with any operator for 48 hours.

The player must have the opportunity to self-exclude for a set period and an option to extend this block. During this period, the player cannot be removed from the self-exclusion database.

In addition, the scope of the register would be expanded to include those under criminal investigation.

The panic button builds upon the introduction of an exclusion register in the Czech Republic in September 2020.

Live dealer and ISP blocking

The draft law also paves the way for legal live dealer games, expanding the range of online products beyond random number generator and digital table games.

One of the most pressing aspects of the new amendments is more stringent blocking of illegal online gambling.

All operators whose games are available in the country will be considered to be active there, regardless of whether they are targeting local players. This will be extended to all other “applications and platforms that offer or mediate illegal gambling games”, suggesting affiliates must only work with locally licensed operators.

Further amendments

The draft bill also tweaks the deposits licence applicants pay as part of their certification process. Under the amendments, the sum paid will be determined by a series of four bands.

Operators applying for a land-based or online licence currently provide additional assurance in one of two ways – by depositing funds into a certain ministry account or by bank guarantee.

The existing deposit framework for land-based licences sets a range between CZK1.0m and CZK50.0m for gaming halls, and CZK10.0m and CZK50.0m for casinos.

For online, the existing deposits range is set at CZK5.0m for betting on racing, CZK30.0m for odds betting and totalisator games and CZK50.0m for lotteries and casino games.

The total amount of the deposit will be determined by the level of customer activity and the risk profile of the games a licensee offers.

Other proposed amendments would see more precise definitions given to certain gambling elements, such as clearer definitions of different types of gambling. In addition, new rules would be added to further regulate the payout of winnings and the termination of player accounts.

Implementation of the original Act

The Act saw operators face a much tighter licensing process, as well as a tax rate of 23% for gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by sports betting operators and lotteries and a tax rate of 35% for RNG casino games.

Since January 2020, lotteries, casino and bingo operators pay a 30% GGR tax, with the fixed-odds betting levy hiked to 25%. This followed a long-running campaign by the Czech Ministry of Health and the National Drug Policy Coordinator to address the increased availability of addictive substances and services.

The RIA was implemented to assess the impact of the Gambling Act on the Czech Republic and to generate proposals for future legislative amendments. Following its notification to the European Commission, the changes are subject to a standstill period running to 17 October.

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