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Slovakian Gambling Regulation Office warns of driving land-based sector underground

By - 28 March 2024

During 2023 Slovakians placed bets amounting to €21.36bn, paid €20.4bn in winnings and spent a total of €1.32bn on gambling. However with online booming and even stricter regulations being brought in for land-based casinos, Slovakia’s gambling authority believes land-based revenues will fall by 22 per cent over 2024.

General Director of the Gambling Regulation Office Martin Bohoš has warned that banning gambling will simply drive it underground.

He said: “The levy to the state budget from gambling for 2023 was amore than €301m, which represents an increase in contributions to the state budget by more than €50m year-on-year. From the regulator’s point of view, we need to talk openly about the risk associated with the ban on legal gambling, which creates conditions for the emergence of illegal gambling houses. I would like to see this topic subjected to a broader societal debate, because if someone feels that by banning legal gambling in a larger city, they will deal with legal gambling, yes, they will deal with legal gambling, but the risks of illegal gambling will remain high.”

Internet casinos held a dominant grip on the market in terms of betting, winnings and revenue, as indicators of the overall development of gambling in the gambling market. This growing trend is related to the dynamic growth of online gambling in Slovakia. They are followed by brick-and-mortar gambling houses and a popular segment among Slovaks – odds betting.

In terms of the amount of the levy to the state budget, the online casino segment led the way with a levy of more than €93m, followed by odds betting, thanks to which €80.48m flowed into the state budget, and the trio is closed by brick-and-mortar gambling houses, which paid levies in the form of a flat-rate levy of €61.9m.

In terms of online, around 90 per cent of the revenue was generated by online betting. When it comes to number lotteries, Slovaks prefer to visit brick-and-mortar collection points in this form of betting.

According to the current legislation, municipalities have very strong tools with which they can regulate gambling in their territory, especially the so-called prohibition general binding regulations, through which they can prohibit the placement of gambling houses and casinos in their municipality, and restrictive general binding regulations, through which they can regulate, for example, the location of gambling rooms near schools or school facilities. Due to prohibitory generally binding regulations of cities and municipalities, the Office expects a decrease of 22 per cent in the levy on brick-and-mortar gambling houses and casinos to the state budget in 2025.

Mr. Bohoš highlighted the fact that municipalities and towns do not pay enough attention to the gambling agenda, therefore there are various errors in the process of issuing generally binding regulations. Failure to comply with the 5-day statutory deadline for fulfilling the notification obligation by cities and municipalities towards the Gambling Regulation Authority results in the Office for the Administration of Gambling Regulations not taking into account the generally binding regulation issued in this way within the licensing procedure.

Mr. Bohoš added: “The Office systematically works to eliminate illegal gambling, whether from the point of view of brick-and-mortar operations or the online environment. In the past, there have been several seizures of illegal technical devices – such as quiz machines or mining machines. Based on statistical data from the inspections carried out, the Authority concluded that the fight against illegal technical devices is effective, although efforts to place them in establishments such as pubs, pubs and restaurants continue.

“Illegal online gambling remains a major challenge not only for the Authority, but also for all regulators within the European Union. The authority actively searches for illegal online gambling sites, verifies the presence of illegal gambling in regular computer games, so-called loot boxes, and also sanctions the promotion of illegal gambling through PR, native articles or streamers.”

Caption: Banco Casino in Bratislava 

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