Czech Republic passes new legislation on gambling

The new bill also aims to attract foreign gaming companies into the Czech Republic’s market.

The European country’s lower house approved on Wednesday a bill that will raise taxes on betting operator as per next year.

Czech Republic.- Yesterday (Wednesday) the Czech lower house passed a bill aimed to raise taxes on betting firms starting from next year.

Under the new legislation, the Czech market will be open to foreign online betting operators. However, the Finance Ministry has the authority to shut down a betting website deemed illegal. The bill was originally meant to take effect this January but it was delayed and it still needs to be approved by the Senate.

In 2014, Czechs spent 138 billion crowns (US$5.8 billion) which amounts to around 3.5 percent of annual economic output. More than half of this amount went to mechanical and video slot machines.

The Czech gambling market is led by a handful of domestic firms, including Prague-listed Fortuna Entertainment Group which focuses on sports betting. Even though slot machine operators criticised the higher taxation on their segment, the tax on slot machines will be raised to 35 percent from 28 percent. All other areas like sport betting or lotteries would remain taxed at 23 percent. This tax comes in addition to the regular corporate tax rate of 19 percent.

The Finance Ministry estimates the boost for annual state revenue to be around 1.5 billion crowns (US$62 million.) The bill also aims to mitigate problem gambling. Furthermore, a second bill will set tighter measures for the use of slot machines and video-lottery terminals.