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Czech Sports Betting Legalised

Online gambling is set to be legalised in the Czech Republic in the New Year. It has taken years of lobbying and pledges that minors will be prevented from gambling but soon the country’s five biggest bookies will receive permits from the Finance Ministry to introduce online gambling.

One of the companies expecting a licence is Fortuna. Company executive, Tomáš Bahník, explains why this decision is important. “We are sad and bitter that foreign internet betting companies are allowed to operate in the Czech Republic without any control,” he says. “There is no legal restriction. So basically they operate in this country illegally. So we want to have the same opportunities as foreign companies.”

Bahník also said that local betting companies could be losing out on hundreds of millions a year to foreign companies who offer internet gambling from outside the Czech Republic but offer no contribution to taxes or employment within the country.

The date set for the issues of the license is January 5 and companies expecting the license have prepared their operations to get underway on the same date.

However, unlike most other countries, there will be strong regulations on internet gambling. “If someone wants to bet through Fortuna on the internet, they must register in a bricks-and-mortar office and show their ID,” Bahník continued. “We don’t accept credit cards but only regular payment cards because we don’t support gambling and gamblers and we don’t want people to become addicted to internet betting. That’s something foreign companies don’t do.”

Some people are also claiming that online betting in the Republic could see a large reduction in the revenue of the land casinos. However in neighbouring Slovakia, online gambling makes up only 20 percent of the market.

Danielle Almond
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