Czech Finance Ministry Mulls Net Betting Prohibition

24 September 2007

Media reports from Prague have revealed that the Czech Ministry of Finance (MF) is working to eliminate Internet betting in the Czech Republic.

Current Czech law prohibits domestic bookmakers from offering remote sports betting. Thus, Czech bettors turn to foreign online operators to wager on sports. So, while remote betting is not regulated in the country, it is not expressly outlawed either, according to the Czech News Agency (CTK).

But CTK reported on Thursday that the MF is drafting an amendment to an existing bill that would make it illegal for foreign companies to offer Internet betting services to Czech citizens, and it includes a ban on advertising and bank transfers to and from betting agencies operating online.

But recent decisions at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which have declared that no EU Member State can restrict betting with foreign companies, may continue to permit foreign firms to offer their services to Czech Republic citizens regardless of the MF's decision, which illustrates what some may view as a flaw in the MF's plan.

Malta-based Interwetten in August became the latest foreign company to offer online betting in the Czech Republic, despite threats from the MF, according to local media. The MF quickly filed a criminal complaint against Interwetten, but the company ignored the action, saying it holds a European license which allows it to operate its business in the country.

Other foreign companies offering online betting in the Czech Republic include bwin, Betsson, Expekt, Worldbet, Gamebrokers and SportingBet.

No date has been announced on when the amendment will be introduced.