Slovakia Submits New Gambling Law for EC Review

Slovakia submitted earlier this week a draft legislation that proposes major reforms to the country’s gambling industry for a review by the European Commission. Among other things, the piece aims to liberalize the country’s online gambling market and allow for international companies to operate in a regulated environment.

The Slovak Ministry of Finance submitted the draft Act on Gambling on July 25, 2018 for a review by the EC. This means that the legislation is now in a three-month standstill period during which it cannot take effect. The standstill period is due to end on October 26. During the next three months, European authorities will review the proposed reforms in the country’s gambling regulatory regime. If the EC does not provide comments on the legislative piece or an explicit rejection of its provisions, it will be able to take effect.

News that the Slovak government was planning to introduce certain changes in the way online gambling services have been provided in the country emerged in May when local lawmakers introduced the draft Act on Gambling.

Under the legislative piece, the national operator Tipos will keep its monopoly over the provision of online lottery, bingo, and raffle products. However, international operators will be able to apply for licenses to provide online casino games, poker included, to Slovak gambling customers. Licensed companies will be required to pay a 23% tax on their revenue from Slovakia.

The new legislative piece also reads that companies that target local customers without the necessary authorization from local regulators would be subject to penalties.

The Slovak government has said that with the planned revamp of the country’s gambling market, they aim to take “the technological progress and the findings of regulatory authorities in other European countries into account more fully”, while providing better protections for consumers of gambling services.

Other Proposed Reforms

The draft legislation also contains provisions concerning Slovakia’s land-based gaming industry. The legislative piece, if it takes effect, will enhance the scope of authority of Slovak municipalities in regulating the provision of gambling services. Local governments will thus be able to determine whether they want or not gambling services to be provided on their territories.

The proposed reforms in Slovakia’s land-based gambling field come in the wake of a Regional Court’s decision from last month that overturned a full ban on gambling in the capital Bratislava. Last spring, city officials adopted the ban, forcing gambling houses across the city to close doors within the next several years.

The Regional Court of Bratislava ruled early in June that the city’s decision to introduce such a ban and particularly the way it was introduced violated the law. The prohibition was adopted by city councilors at the second attempt after failing to gain enough support the first time when it was voted in February 2017.

The new Act on Gambling also proposes the establishment of an independent regulatory body that will oversee the nation’s gambling industry. The Regulatory Office for Gambling will be assigned the tasks to license and supervise regulated operations, and to sanction unregulated providers of gambling services.

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