Many online casino operators will probably be leaving the Czech market in the near future. William Hill, a major UK casino and sports betting provider, became one of the first, with many more expected to follow the suite. The reason for this can be found in the new set of Czech gambling laws set to kick in on January 1, 2017.
New Gambling Act
A new Gambling Act was adopted in the Czech Republic earlier this year. The Act was passed unanimously, with a 42-0 vote. Subsequently, the President signed the Act into law, with the provision that new laws will not take effect until January 1, 2017. That date is now just a few days away.
Higher Taxes and Harsher Licensing Procedures
After January 1, all those who wish to offer gambling services to Czech Republic residents will have to have proper licenses. Furthermore, they’ll have to agree to much higher taxation rates than before. According to the provisions from the new set of laws, online casinos (including online poker) will have to pay 35% tax on their gross gaming revenue. Sports betting sites and lotteries will pay 23% tax.
To make things even worse for the operators, all new tax rates are added on top of the corporate tax, which stands at 10%. When all this is added together, we come to a significant amount that many operators might not be willing to pay for the privilege.
Battling Illegal Operators
Fully understanding there’ll be those looking to find the way around the laws, the Czech government announced they’d be doing everything in their power to prevent illegal sites from offering their services to players from the Czech Republic.
These measures will include ordering the internet service providers in the country to block the access to the sites operating without proper licenses. While this announcement was met with the disapproval of numerous online groups, the government seems unshaken in their decision to put a tight leash on online gambling in the country.
It seems that online poker players might be hit the hardest, as the new laws dictate that bets can’t exceed $41 and tournament winnings can’t go over $2,050 (50,000 Czech Koruna). If this holds, many players who play poker for a living could find themselves in a very peculiar situation, with some big decisions to make.