Prague’s Slots And VLTs Face Outright Ban

Slots and VLTs in Prague’s Czech capital are facing an outright ban on draft legislation expected to be submitted to the City Council on September 10.

The bill will prohibit all of the capital’s mechanical, electromechanical, and electronic slots and video lottery terminals while allowing conventional table gaming to remain. Although the ban will kick in immediately, with the last expiring in 2024, current licences will be honoured.

Councillor Hana Kordová Marvanová in Prague said: “The issue of regulating the operation of gambling is primarily a question of finding a balanced solution, responding to the development of legislation and modern gaming technologies. On one hand, this leaves the citizen free to decide and do business, on the other hand reduces pathological phenomena associated with gambling, and on the other hand, reduces pathological phenomena associated with gambling.”

The number of slots and VLTs dropped to 3,995 at the end of August 2020, from 15,934 on January 1st 2010. Ms Marvanová said the ban would result in an annual gambling tax deficit of CZK400 m ($15.1 m) for the region.

She added: “I promised the city districts that the loss of income due to the ban on technical games will not be felt and will be compensated from the budget of the City of Prague so as not to suffer from this step the financing of important public activities.

“The last decree on gambling regulation is from 2015. Unfortunately, it did not limit the number of casino gambling rooms, but in fact, they are only slot machines where almost anyone can play day and night except for short breaks. Slot machines are a bad sign for the city because they are the most addictive and are linked to all sorts of crime, so it is both a social and security risk.

“I am aware that this will deprive boroughs of a significant portion of their income to finance sports and similar activities. That is why I also want the City to compensate for this loss of income for the boroughs so that no borough is motivated to keep the gambling clubs just for money.”

The Prague 7 area of Prague,  in November 2019 banned slots and opted for a zero tolerance policy. Prague 7 held a local referendum on the issue in 2014 with 92 percent of the electorate voting in support of the ban.

Countrywide, slots accounted for CZK196.5bn of Czech turnover in 2019 that hit CZK389.2b in total in 2019. Slot income rose 17 percent despite the number of land-based slots dropping to 36,464 last year by 16.2 percent. The total number of slot halls in Czech decreased to 1,227 by a third last year.