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Slovakia – Slovakia to liberalise its online gaming market

By - 31 July 2018

Slovakia’s Ministry of Finance has submitted a bill to the European Commission to ‘relax restrictions on access to the internet gambling market’ with new laws that will see every provider who fulfils the legal conditions able to get a license.

Operators would though need a base in Slovakia or another EU state to apply for a licence. The aim is to open the regulated market by next March with new entrants competing with the government-owned TIPOS who currently enjoys a monopoly on online gaming.

The Central European country currently has a restrictive online market with more than 200 online casino providers are on a blacklist, including esteemed operators such as Bet365 and 888. Politicians in Slovakia pointed at the success of countries such as Denmark, Romania, Czech Republic in establishing more liberal laws. Online operators would pay a tax rate of 23 per cent.

The Ministry said: “The Act would take technological progress and the findings of regulatory authorities in other European countries into account more fully, while simultaneously improving the protection of players from possible harmful effects directly related to services provided in this sector.”

The Chairman of the Association of Slovak Gambling Providers Peter Papanek believes that creating fair conditions for all has seen countries reduce their number of illegal operators.

Speaking to Sport Aktuality, he said: “The state began blocking illegal companies. But that was only the first step. Now comes the second, clear rules for everyone – anyone who wants to offer online casino games will be able to do so if they meet the prescribed conditions.

“Experience from abroad shows that, if the state wants to intervene against tax evasion and illegal gambling, it must go through the liberalisation of the market and the setting of fair conditions, inter alia, to motivate operators to operate legally,” he added. “Illegal companies thus lose the incentive to circumvent the rules, and the state, in addition to income, also gains the certainty of consumer protection. The countries that have been chosen liberalisation have rapidly reduced the share of the black market.”

Some observers though, including the Remote Gambling Association, have said that the proposed licensing fees are prohibitive as Slovakia is not a major market in European online gambling.

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