Prague officials approve blanket ban on electronic gaming and slot machines

The ban will take effect from January 2021; casinos will still be permitted to operate live non-electronic games

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 14.09.2020 11:57 (updated on 14.09.2020)

Prague city officials have approved a new decree that will ban electronic slot machines and other electronic gaming machines from the entire city. The ban will take effect from January 2021, but current operators will have a three-window to remove the machines as licenses expire.

Opposition parties have criticized the ban, noting that it will result in a loss of money for the city; each year, Prague collects hundreds of millions of crowns in gambling taxes.

Last year the Czech capital collected about 770 million crowns in gambling taxes; about 440 million of that came from the electronic machines that will be banned as of next year.

Roughly have of these funds are distributed to individual city districts based on population, with money going towards initiatives that support sports, culture, education and social programs.

A number of Prague districts requested to keep the operation on electronic gaming machines possible at select locations, such as hotels that operate casinos. According to councilor Hana Marvanová, however, this may violate Czech laws on competition.

“I cannot submit a regulation that that would go against the right to competition,” Marvanova said.

In the end, city officials voted in favor of the blanket ban, a zero tolerance measure that will entirely restrict the operation of electronic slot machines in the city.

Currently, there are 101 registered casinos in Prague that operate live games, which will still be permitted under the new decree.

According to Marvanová, however, most of these venues only offered unattractive or limited live games in order to obtain casino licensing and instead focused their efforts on the operation of electronic machines.

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These venues are expected to close operation after the new decree takes effect.

Opposition parties argue that the decree will result in these types of casinos setting up new locations on the outskirts of Prague.