Slots May Be Banned in Prague over Concerns about Gambling Harm

City officials in Prague are deciding on the future of slot games in the city. Earlier this week, a draft bill was presented which calls for the prohibition of electronic, electromechanical and mechanical gambling in the city.

A Bill Proposes Ban of Gambling Games

The legislature in Prague will decide this week whether slot machines will be completely banned from the city. Earlier this week, on Monday a draft bill was approved by Prague councilors. The bill calls for the complete prohibition of electronic, electromechanical and mechanical gambling games in Prague. According to the bill, video lottery terminals and slot machines may also be banned. The only exception that the bill offers is to continue the live gambling in the city.

According to councilor Hana Kordova Marvanová the decree on gambling regulation from 2015 did not limit the number of casino gambling rooms. She deemed the presence of slot machines as a “bad sign for the city”. According to Marvanová, the slot machines are among the most addictive gambling methods and they are also linked to crime. She outlined that the presence of slot machines pose “both a social and security risk”.

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib commented on the subject saying that this is the third decree aiming at regulating gambling in the city since 2007. According to him gambling operators often corner regulations and laws. Mayor Hrib urged the authorities to respond quickly to the proposed changesin order to reduce the pathological phenomena that arise in connection with the slot machines“.

Is Prague Going to Be Completely Gambling-Free?

Gambling in Prague has been a controversial topic for quite some time now. The municipal district Prague 7 held a referendum back in 2014, where 92% of the people voted for gambling ban. The biggest municipal district, Prague 7 followed the 2015 City of Prague decree and back in November 2019 it closed all physical gambling locations.

Looking back to 2012, we see that back then, the number of casinos was approximately 7,600. Currently, this number has plummeted to 1,800. The same decrease is observed with the number of gambling machines which is below 39,000. If the recently proposed gambling bill is approved, operators will be able to keep the slot machines until their permits expire. After this period, the operators will need to remove them. But some operators have permits which will expire three years from now.

The legislature in Prague is ultimately after reducing harms which are the result of gambling, but the bill proposing the ban raises other concerns. One such concern is how the ban of slot machines is going to impact the tourism. As many tourists that visited the city to gamble won’t be able to do so anymore.

Another concerning point is how will the city fill the tax revenue gap that will be created once slot machines are banned. Here it is important to mention that the gambling venues raised CZK690 million (approximately $30.7 million) last year. And that money helped both the local and city’s coffers.

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