Online casinos in the Czech Republic are not licensed or sanctioned, but the government has so far declined to take any action that would prevent us from visiting foreign websites to scratch our gambling itch. A large number of operators based in other European countries openly accept Czech citizens as real money customers.
Legislation to license and regulate Czech casino sites has recently been introduced, but it has yet to take effect. The latest word is the new regulations could go into effect on or after 1 January, 2017. In the meantime, players can choose from any number of international casino sites that are all reputable and easy-to-access from the Czech Republic.
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Czech law does not currently provide a method for licensing online casinos, so we have resorted to recommending the best casino sites headquartered in other European nations. While some in the political class would probably call these sites “illegal” and “unlicensed,” the truth of the matter is each one of these is a legitimate, tax-paying business with employees in its home country. They simply do not have licenses to operate in the Czech Republic.
This may be changing soon, however. The government has recently passed a law that will make it possible for sites hosted in European Union nations to apply for online gambling and poker licenses. If that law does go into effect, we may one day be able to recommend licensed providers.
As we mentioned above, the government does not take action to make these online casinos inaccessible from inside the Czech Republic. Some other nations attempt to control online gambling by censoring the internet and ordering payment providers not to process payments for online casinos. That is not the case in the Czech Republic.
Czech Republic Gambling Laws
Online gambling was largely unregulated in the Czech Republic up until the passage of the Lotteries Act in 2009. The Lotteries Act did not specifically address online gambling, so lawmakers went back and revamped the law in 2012 as a sort of quick-fix. The 2012 update allowed for the licensing of online bookmakers but prohibited the operation of online casinos.
Even after the update, it was obvious Czech gaming law was in need of an overhaul. The European Commission found the requirement that licensed sports betting providers be established as Czech companies to be protectionist in nature and demanded a change in the law.
Furthermore, the law did nothing to prevent international online casinos from serving the Czech market without a license. The combination of restrictive licensing procedures for operators and no protection of the market created a situation in which foreign operators could out-compete licensed operators on Czech territory. In short, there was little incentive to even apply for a license at all.
Today, the Czech Republic is in the process of revamping its gaming laws in order to create a more open market and satisfy EU free trade agreements. In June of 2016, Czech President Miloš Zeman signed new legislation into law that will finally make it possible for casino sites based out of other European Union/EEA nations to receive gambling licenses. The Act on Gambling (PDF) is expected to go into effect on the first day of 2017.
The new legislation drops the current stipulation that only Czech companies may apply for online gaming licenses. That requirement had irked the European Commission for quite some time as it violated EU agreements providing for the free movement of services among EU members. Now, international operators will be able to apply for licenses issued by the Ministry of Finance.
However, European gambling stakeholders have expressed some serious misgivings regarding the bill. One is the issue of tax rates. The new bill calls for a 35% tax on the gross gaming revenue of online casinos in the Czech Republic and a 23% tax on the gross gaming revenue for sports betting. These taxes will be levied in addition to the existing 19% corporate tax.
Excessive tax rates will likely put licensed Czech online casinos at a serious disadvantage to any operators that choose to ignore the law and continue on without licensing. In answer to this potential problem, the new legislation also grants the Ministry of Finance additional powers to create an internet blacklist to block access to unlicensed casino sites in the Czech Republic and to block payments to unlicensed operators.
The legislation also includes language that will establish a national database of players who have requested to be banned from playing online. Licensed operators will be plugged into the database and be required to block access to anyone on the list.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.