partypoker Withdraws Czech Republic License Application

Online poker room partypoker has informed its Czech players that it has withdrawn its application for a license from the Czech Ministry of Finance, local poker news outlet Poker-Arena reported today.

The poker operator, owned by Isle of Man-based gambling group GVC Holdings, has cited the country’s current regulatory environment as the main reason for its decision. In a message to its Czech players, it has explained that the licensing procedure in the country had been found not compliant with EU principles and that it hoped the matter would be addressed by Czech authorities in a timely manner. The operator has also hinted at the possibility to re-apply for a license once all issues are solved.

In February, partypoker suspended temporarily its Czech operations, following the introduction of iGaming-related legislative reforms. Back then, the operator pointed out that it had been in constant communication with local authorities and that it had applied for a license that would allow it to operate in the newly-regulated market.

The regulation of the Czech iGaming market had been discussed for years before the actual new laws came into force on New Year’s Day. Similarly to other EU members, the Central European country had long been urged by the European Commission to adopt a legislative approach that would comply with general requirements; an approach that would make it possible for every gambling company interested to operate in the local market to be able to do so as long as it acts in accordance with the necessary regulations and pays the necessary taxes and fees.

Following the introduction of the new gambling laws, interested international operators were able to apply for a license from the Ministry of Finance and thus operate in a legal and regulated environment and not in a gray one. Shortly after the regulations came into effect, the Transparency International non-governmental organization released heavy criticism in relation to local authorities’ failure to sanction unlicensed operators for providing unlicensed operations to local players. Major gambling operators like bet365 and Betfair were mentioned as being among the violators.

The organization promised to keep a close eye on how authorities were monitoring the industry and how those who breached the law were approached.

Under the new Czech gambling law, all licensed operators need to pay a 35% tax on gross gaming revenue. While lawmakers had chosen revenue as a tax base, similarly to their colleagues from other countries, they have decided to impose a rather high tax, one that may affect the country’s attractiveness to foreign operators quite negatively.

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