Czech lawmakers voted in favour of a new decree banning all slot machines, video lottery terminals (VLTs) and gaming machines in Prague.
Once it’s agreed from the city council, the ban will come into force from January next year. While this means an end to all slot machines and VLTs in the capital once the current licensing period completes in 2024, ‘live gaming’ will still be permitted in casinos in many districts.
According to Prague councillor Hana Kordová Marvanová, the government will allocate money from other areas within the council’s budget to make up for the US$17.7m loss in tax revenue caused by the new ban.
This money is used to fund sports, culture and educational programmes in the city’s districts.
“The issue of regulating the operation of gambling is primarily a question of finding a balanced solution [while] responding to the development of legislation and modern gaming technologies,” said Marvanová. “On the one hand, this leaves the citizen free to decide and do business, and on the other hand reduces pathological phenomena associated with gambling.”
Gambling in the city has been long-debated due to concerns regarding criminal activity, including tax evasion linked to gaming bars and the impact of compulsive gambling, especially on poorer communities.
Previous decrees passed have reduced the number of venues in which gambling can take place. Prague currently has 101 official casino venues, with the number of gaming machines declining over the past 10 years from nearly 16,000 to just under 4,000.
Of Prague’s 57 districts, 41 opted for a total ban on gambling, while others voted to allow live gaming in casinos operating in non-residential urban areas, many of which cater to tourists.