Fewer Gambling Venues Operate in Bratislava Due to 2017 Ban

The number of gambling venues has dropped in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, since the beginning of 2018, local news outlet The Slovak Spectator reported. The decrease was due to a gambling ban introduced by city councilors last spring.

City officials approved a ban on the provision of gambling services in the capital city. However, many facilities offering gambling services did not and will not close immediately. The closure of such venues will be carried out gradually, as many of them were not licensed by the city council. Those licensed by the Slovak Finance Ministry will close doors when their licenses expire. The last such licenses are due to expire in 2021.

A 2016 report by local media outlet the Trend Weekly showed that there were around 300 facilities across the Slovak capital where people could gamble. These included gambling houses, pubs and other public venues. Of all 300, around 165 were identified as gambling houses and casinos.

Under a new countrywide regulation, gambling houses are the only facilities that can feature slot machines. What is more, a gambling house must feature at least 12 slot machines in order to be classified as a venue of this type. The measure was introduced in a bid for bars, restaurants, and similar properties to be cleared of the gambling devices.

Cited by local media, Radko Kuruc, State Secretary of the Slovak Finance Ministry, said that the new measures were intended to limit the availability of slot machines across the country, and that the measure has so far proved to be successful.

Effects from the Gambling Crackdown

It is important to note that the full gambling ban in Bratislava was contested in court and a ruling on the matter is yet to be issued. The proposed ban was eventually approved by councilors during a second voting session. The first vote on the move failed, as it did not gain enough support from city officials.

What is more, votes on the ban were actually initiated by a petition that 130,000 Bratislava citizens had signed requesting a full ban on gambling services in the country.

A prosecutor’s office has claimed that the second vote on the prohibition was unlawful, as it was based on the same proposal, which in turn was based on the same petition. The city council has argued that the petition and the vote were separate matters and has been insisting on the gradual implementation of the citywide ban.

The Association of Entertainment and Gambling (AZAH) has agreed to the re-regulation of Bratislava’s gambling environment. However, the association awaits the court ruling on the matter. It is also yet to be seen whether it will demand damages from the city, if the ban is voided by the court.

Dominika Lukáčová of the AZAH has told local media that the ban will make it possible for slot machines to only be concentrated in facilities designed for gambling purposes. The association is yet to provide estimates on the number of gambling-related properties that are to close doors due to the ongoing gambling crackdown.

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