Old Act Opens Online Door for Terrestrial Czech Betting Operators

8 January 2009

Several land-based betting companies in the Czech Republic will begin offering online services under a section of the country's current gaming legislation, IGamingNews has confirmed.

Act No. 202/1990 Coll. regulates gaming, gambling, betting and lotteries, but does not address online gambling, Eva Adamcova, an attorney at Prague-based Peterka & Partners, told IGamingNews Wednesday.

However, Section 50 of the act grants the Ministry of Finance to permit games which are not otherwise authorized by the act, she said.

"Up to now, the Ministry of Finance [which is responsible] for granting of licenses to run gambling activities has not granted a license to run online betting to any company," Ms. Adamcova said. "Now, for the first time, the Czech Ministry of Finance has granted permission to run online betting to five Czech betting companies."

Tomáš Bahník, spokesperson for the Fortuna Group, one of Eastern Europe's largest betting operators -- and one that will be granted an online betting license -- told Radio Prague last month that his company is losing millions of dollars per year to unregulated foreign betting operators.

"We are sad and bitter that foreign internet betting companies are allowed to operate in the Czech Republic without any control," Mr. Bahník said. "There is no legal restriction. So basically they operate in this country illegally. So we want to have the same opportunities as foreign companies."

Under the current law, the ministry may grant a license for online betting only to a legal entity which is wholly located in the Czech Republic, Ms. Adamcova said.

The ministry will not grant a license, however, to any company with foreign ownership interest, making it unlikely the ministry would grant a license to a foreign company.

Ms. Adamcova said a new act regulating gaming, betting and lotteries is being drafted by the ministry, but it is not clear yet how it will regulate online betting.




Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.