Slovakia Moves To Open Up Online Gambling

Slovakia Moves To Open Up Online Gambling ( Click to Enlarge )

Assuming Slovakia’s president Andrej Kiska approves it, the Slovak Ministry of Finance has recently passed legislation that allows for EU gambling operators to apply for licences to operate within the country from spring 2019 — ending the state monopoly by TIPOS for all games besides some lotteries.

Online Casinos Licenses

A licence for either online betting or web casinos will be priced at €3m each for a 10-year period, or €5m for both; in addition to this, a 22.7% tax on gross revenue will apply, with 0.7% going towards funding a €6m budget for the newly formed Office for Regulation of Gambling.

Driven by a recognition that many Slovakians were using unregulated and unlicensed online casinos, the law continues to add to the list of countries within the EU which have recently relaxed gambling controls – including the Czech Republic. While others, including Sweden and the Netherlands, continue to investigate potential liberalisation.

Small Market

Within Slovakia there has been encouraging growth within the legal gambling sector between 2013 and 2015-16; however, the overall market value of unregulated gambling within the country is only estimated to be a mere €28m, which includes both online and offline gaming.

For this reason, although there is optimism within the EU, as the new laws add another potential market for growth, the actual revenue will likely pale in comparison to European giants, such as the UK and their £14bn per year industry profit.

Regardless, the new laws continue to isolate EU countries which still have fairly conservative laws around gambling. With 19 countries participating in the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) scheme, which represents the industry within Europe, there are hopes for continued cooperation in developing cross-border regulation, as well as improving customer protections and minimising fraud.

Regardless, with strong continued and sustained growth across the union, another market is only good news for all involved. However, with many countries moving towards putting in place measures to protect problem gamblers there are some worries that growth may begin to slow. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends upon your point of view, but from a harm reduction standpoint it could only be considered a step in the right direction.