Prague’s city council has given the thumbs up to a new radical decree that will formally ban all technical gaming machines including slot machines and video lottery terminals (VLTs) in the city. The decree in question was okayed by the Czech Republic’s national assembly earlier in the week, and it only needed the approval of council officials to become law in the country’s capital city.
This blanket ban will be effective beginning January next year, but operators with licenses that are still active will be given a 3-year window to get rid of the machines by 2024 when all the licenses will have expired. Following backlash from opposition parties in Prague, particularly for the tax revenue that would be lost from the ban, the city council justified the decision by indicating that they made the move in a bid to combat rampant compulsive gambling in Prague.
Last year, for example, all forms of gambling in Prague generated an impressive CZK 770 million in taxes and the electronic machines that are now facing the ban brought in CZK 440 million of the total tax revenue. In response, the capital city’s councillor Hana Kordová Marvanová indicated that Prague’s city council approved a supplementary budget to cushion the districts from the loss of gambling revenue.
Currently, 16 out of a total of 57 districts in Prague allow gambling in non-residential urban areas. With the new ban, only the slot machines and VLTs will be affected, but live gaming will remain legal as it is across the districts where gambling is legally regulated.