Slovakia – Bratislava to close down 305 gambling venuesBy Phil - 5 April 2017
Politicians in the Slovakian city of Bratislava have implemented new legislation to ban all forms of gambling from the capital except sports betting, forcing 305 venues to one day shut down.
City council members approved laws that will refuse licence applications from existing casinos meaning that once their existing licences run out they will have to close down. The city has 305 casinos, slot halls and bingo halls. The legislation follows a vote back in February where councillors made their feelings known but failed to pass any new laws.
Bratislava Mayor Ivo Nesrovnal said the ban would come be introduced in May but won’t see gambling banned completely for another four years. That is when the city’s last casino licence, granted to the Banco Casino in the Crowne Plaza hotel, will run out. It will lose nearly €3m a year in gambling tax.
Mayor Nesrovnal said: “We will replace the drop in revenues. This was not a vote about money but about values. It will not work in such a way that we will wake up tomorrow and all the gambling venues will be closed but we finally have an instrument to begin pushing them away.”
The Entertainment and Games Association (AZaH) has slammed the move as being illegal and said it would challenge it in court.
AZaH spokesperson Dominika Lukáčová said: “The first vote failed to ban gambling, but in today’s vote the regulation passed and the mayor chose the result according to his preferences,” said Lukáčová, as quoted by the TASR newswire. She added that these steps have nothing in common with democracy. Slovakia is a country that respects the rule of law, and we believe that a court will recognise that this procedure has nothing to do with democracy.”
She warned though that as a result of the ban both online gambling revenues and illegal gambling will increase.
Olympic Gaming Entertainment operates four casinos in Bratislava, generating GGR of €8.2m in 2016. It employs 324 people in Slovakia. The Olympic Casino Slovakia and Lucky Seven have licenses that will expire in 2018.