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EC Criticizes Czech Bill

The European Commission has criticized a Czech bill that would legalize internet betting, but would burden online bookmakers with cumbersome requirements.

The bill currently mandates online licensees to register players in brick-and-mortar outlets throughout the country.

“The main problem is with freedom to provide services. In the bill there are some serious restrictions on foreign companies,” Jana Čechová Náplavová, a lawyer at Toman, Devátý & Partners, told GamblingCompliance.

Prime Minister Petr Nečas is hoping to pass legislation by January 1, 2013. However, the EC’s investigation has left the bill under a standstill until December 17, rendering quick approval unlikely, and “entirely new legislation the most favourable option.”

The Czech government awarded five licenses in a snap tender in 2008. That licensing process is currently the subject of an anti-corruption investigation that involves alleged bribery of Czech finance minister Miroslav Kalousek.

The European Commission last month re-opened its investigation into the compliance of Czech gambling laws with EU regulations:

“The legislation in question is hampered by a number of shortcomings, such as systematic, definitional and institutional fragmentation and confusion; failure to take technological development (such as remote gaming) into account; insufficient protection of society from the undesired effects of games of chance; an insufficient role of self-administration in regulating lotteries and other games; and ineffective state supervision.”

In October, the EC published a report outlining plans to target regulatory regimes out of line with EU law.

Earlier this week, fourteen online gambling executives representing 12 companies sent a letter to the Financial Times urging the commission to crack down on non-compliant member states.

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