A few weeks ago, Slovakia’s online gambling market was set for a major shakeup after the country’s lawmakers approved plans that would effectively do away with the local online monopoly. Initially, it was hoped that the country’s president would sign the new measures into law thus giving international operators the opportunity to apply for local gambling licenses.
The new regime would then begin accepting online casino license applications by March 1, 2019, with licenses approvals set for July 1, 2019. Regulators in the country would also begin accepting sports betting license applications from July 1, 2019, even though these particular licenses would not take effect until July 1, 2020. The online casino and online sports betting licenses would cost the interested operators a whopping €3 million apiece – however, operators who were interested in offering both were going to be given a €1 million discount for showing interest in licenses for both. These licenses would then be valid for 10-year terms but for the operators that opted for online and land-based betting they would be given 5-year licenses as well as a 5-year extension option which would be at their own discretions.
In addition to all that, the government would create a new Office for Regulation of Gambling that would be responsible for oversight over the gaming industry, something that was previously handled by the Ministry of Finance.
President Andrej Kiska Disagrees
The country’s president was not so happy with the law and therefore vetoed the new gambling regime which would have, for the first time, opened up the online gaming market to international operators. In a statement that he issued last Friday, President Kiska said that he had refused to approve the online gambling regulations because they had “reservations that prove the error of the whole concept of the approved law.”
According to the president, the proposed laws contained insufficient consumer protection measures – for instance, expected them to include a clause that required that all people who had declared personal bankruptcy be included in Slovakia’s national gambling exclusion registry. In addition to this, he also pointed out shortcomings in the regulations’ requirement that all gamblers submit digital copies of their Citizen’s Card for identification verification. In his opinion, there needs to be “a better way of demonstrating the eligibility to play gambling that would not pose a risk for the protection of sensitive and misleading personal data.”
Moreover, the legislation failed to specify how the government would spend gambling revenues and also left out local government authorities. President Kiska wants the legislators to go back to the drawing board before the bill is returned to him. Alternatively, they would all vote to override his veto but this is quite unlikely.