Prague approves slot machine ban

Prague approves slot machine ban

A city-wide ban on slot machines will come into force in 2024. The Czech Republic has also begun trialing a national gaming exclusion register.

Czech Republic.- Prague City Council has voted in favour of a decree banning all mechanical and electronic gambling machines, including slots and video lottery terminals, in the Czech capital from 2024.

The decree, which does not affect live gaming at casinos in the six areas that permit them, was approved by the legislature earlier in the week and only needed councillors’ approval.

Councillors say they approved the decree in a bid to tackle problem gambling.

Councillor Hana Kordová Marvanová said: “We decided to follow the path of a blanket ban on slot machines throughout the city because we set ourselves the goal of reducing the most dangerous forms of gambling, which include playing slot machines.

“Statistics show that limiting the availability of gambling has a significant positive impact in the area of negative social phenomena, such as pathological gambling or non-payment.”

She said the council estimates the city will lose CZK400m (€15m) a year in tax income as a result of the ban but will redirect funds from other sources.

She said: “We have promised all parts of the city that they do not have to worry about the loss of revenue from taxes on technical games, which they have so far used to finance public needs such as culture, education, sport or social affairs.

“Together with the approval of the decree, the task of compensating the City Council for possible loss of income so that the financing needs of important public activities do not suffer was also approved.”

Several other cities in the Czech Republic, including Brno, Ostrava, Břeclav, Kyjov, Klatovy and České Budějovice, have already implemented similar bans.

In Prague itself, the number of gaming terminals has already fallen from 15,934 in January 2010 to 3,995.

The decline followed a decree introduced in 2007 that restricted the times and places where gambling is permitted in the city, leading to a drastic reduction in the number of venues. 

Meanwhile at a national level, the Czech Republic has this week launched a trial run of its new gambling exclusion register.

The Ministry of Finance has announced that the register will permit both voluntary self-exclusion from gambling and the possibility of forced exclusion for people on welfare, who are bankrupt or who have received treatment for gambling addiction.

Operators will be required to join the programme and begin blocking access to those excluded when the trial period finishes on December 20. They will need to verify whether anyone seeking to access gambling products has signed up to the register. 

Minister of Finance Alena Schillerová said: “Thanks to this register, it will no longer be possible for money paid out in benefits to end up in gaming machines, as is unfortunately still the case in many incidences.

“The launch of a system that can exclude vulnerable groups or pathological gamblers from the temptation of hard gambling will help not only them, but also their families and those close to them.”

The move comes as part of a series of measures implemented since the introduction of the Czech Gambling Act in 2016. New taxes and a ban on gambling advertising have already been introduced. 

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