Online Betting Czeching In

19 December 2008

The Czech Republic's finance ministry will reportedly soon offer permits to the five biggest sports betting companies in the country to offer online services, according to Tomáš Bahník, spokesperson for one of Eastern Europe's largest betting operators.

Mr. Bahník, the public relations manager for the Fortuna Group, told Radio Prague on Thursday 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."

Fortuna plans to address concerns over problems gambling and gambling among minors by requiring customers to register for online services -- in person -- at one its land-based betting shops, showing proof of identification.

Mr. Bahník told Radio Prague he believes this is why the finance ministry approved the proposal.

The Czech Republic-based firms are reportedly set to begin operating online Jan. 5, 2009, but IGamingNews has been unable to confirm the report.

IGamingNews will follow up with a more detailed analysis next week.

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