Czech Gov Says Survey Bolsters Case Against Gambling

30 June 2008

Dzamila Stehlikova, the Czech Republic's minister for human rights and minorities, says a survey of Czech municipalities shows that more than 80 percent of them would like to limit gambling in their territory.

The municipalities are concerned that the negative effects of gambling, such as crime and addiction problems, outweigh the benefits, according to Stehlikova.

She says the survey indicates that new gambling legislation, currently being developed by the Finance Ministry, should restrict gambling to certain premises, "to protect adolescents and people from socially excluded communities from the offer that is everywhere, in cafes, restaurants, hotels, at train stations and many other places."

Stehlikova would like to see the Finance Ministry's bill prohibit gambling in premises near schools, social facilities, medical facilities and ghettoes. She also wants to prohibit gambling on the Internet and by mobile devices.

The Finance Ministry plans to submit its gambling bill to the government toward the end of the year.

The Senate is already dealing with an amendment that would ban online and mobile phone gambling and give municipalities more control over gambling premises. Some Senators are wary that there is no point in passing such legislation since the Finance Ministry is about to present another bill anyway.

Czechs spent a record Kc108.3 billion ($6.756 billion) on domestic gambling in 2007, an increase of Kc10.2 billion ($637 million) over the previous year, according to the Finance Ministry. The numbers mean that, on average, each Czech over the age of 18 spent about Kc12,900 ($804) on gambling in 2007.

Growth was fueled by a boom in electro-mechanical roulette and video lottery terminals, which brought in Kc7.3 billion ($455 million) more than in 2006.

Revenue from casinos, fixed-odds betting and lotteries all decreased in 2007, however.

Gambling operator Sazka generated a record Kc10.4 billion ($648 million) in sales in 2007, Synot generated sales of Kc8.2 billion ($511 million) and Fortuna generated sales of Kc921.5 million ($57 million).