Czech Gambling Sector Is Being Restructured – Jan Řehola, Lawyer at Petroš Sedláčková Legal
Czech Gambling Act has opened the country’s casino market for operators from different governments, believes Jan Řehola, the lawyer at Petroš Sedláčková Legal.
In the interview to the Prague iGaming Affiliate Conference, the expert talked about the Czech Gambling Act and compared land-based casinos with online gambling platforms.
Interviewer: Prague iGaming Affiliate Conference (PiAC).
Speaker: Jan Řehola, Lawyer at Petroš Sedláčková Legal (JŘ).
PiAC: Could you tell us what was the goal of the Czech Gambling Act which was issued in 2017?
JŘ: For the first time in history, the new Gambling Act brings complex regulation of the online gambling sector to the Czech Republic territory. At the same time, it has opened Czech market for operators and suppliers based anywhere in EU/EEA countries.
The main goal was to enhance the level of player protection in the online gambling environment, limit the black and grey market operation and naturally increase incomes that flow from gambling to the state budget.
PiAC: As we know, in the Czech Republic, the first gambling licence for online casino was issued in 2017. What has changed in the Czech gambling industry since that?
JŘ: The new Gambling Act brings very complex change to the whole gambling sector that is currently undergoing big restructuring. Currently, 23 online licences were issued under the new Gambling Act and others may be issued soon.
Land-based industry is under huge pressure due to more strict regulation, and therefore, more companies are looking at the online gambling as at a new potential tool to offer their customers new experience.
PiAC: Which international companies are there on the Czech gambling market and how legal is their operation?
JŘ: In the Czech Republic, there is a full range of instruments in place to combat illegal gambling ranging from IP and payment blocking to severe administrative and criminal sanction of illegal gambling operators.
The complex ban on advertising the non-licensed operators is very effective. Due to this tool, many international operators voluntarily left the Czech market. From international companies, there are only PokerStars, partypoker and Lottovate that operate on the Czech market legally.
PiAC: Compare the popularity of land-based casinos and online casinos in the Czech Republic. Which of them attract more people and why?
JŘ: Land-based casinos have huge tradition in the Czech Republic and this market is very competitive. Before the new Gambling Act was adopted, the Czech Republic was the second country in the world after Australia when it came to the number of slot machines per capita.
The new Gambling Act brings many regulatory restrictions, and now land-based slot machine and casino markets experience hard times. But still, the land-based market is much bigger than the online casino market. This is logical taking into the account that online casino products could be legally offered only for less than two years.
PiAC: What is the position of the Czech Republic on live dealer games and bitcoin online casinos?
JŘ: Those products are not explicitly covered by the new regulation, so their legality depends more on the actual attitude of a regulator and interpretation of the existing regulatory framework. When it comes to the live dealer, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement that this type of product is not licensable in the Czech Republic. In Bitcoin online casinos, their policy has not yet been tested as far as I am informed.
PiAC: How can you compare gambling regulation in the Czech Republic and other European countries?
JŘ: I am finding the Czech regulation as one of the strictest regulations in the EU. This is mainly noticeable when it comes to player protection measures where we have very complex and unique list of measures that prevent problem gambling behaviour. All players need to register not only in the online gambling world but also in the land-based casinos and slot halls. Very complex AML requirements for player identification also deter many international operators from entering the Czech market. We will see what change will be brought by the implementation of 5th AML Directive that should be done in the first half of this year.
Jan Řehola will become a speaker at the Prague iGaming Affiliate Conference where he will participate in the panel discussion about current state of gambling regulation in the Czech Republic.