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With a debut gaming summit in Prague just around the corner, the organisers have released some fantastic news – Net Entertainment are the main stage sponsor! It’s fair to say that there’s been a mixed response to Czech Republic’s new gambling act, which began on January 1st this year. PokerStars, for instance, applied for a license and subsequently became the first international operator, whereas others decided to back out before the legislation came into force.
While some have decided to stay and face the music, the Czech government have been pushing for an internet domain ban to be implemented by major service providers in the country. Towards the end of February, this request was deemed constitutional by a court which paved the way for these plans to be pressed ahead.
Therefore, with all this political muscle-flexing, the Prague Gaming Summit was announced by Zoltan “Hawkie” Tundik, founder of EEGMedia, in an attempt to form a constructive discussion about iGaming’s future in Czech Republic.
To understand why Tundik has organised this event, you have to delve into the Czech Gaming Act’s details to ascertain what exactly has been introduced. Make no mistake, this bill isn’t designed to boost the online gambling sector, far from it! Rather, Finance Minister Adrej Babis is an outspoken critic of iGaming and has introduced incredibly high taxes in order to limit this kind of activity.
Initially demanding a gross gaming revenue (GGR) rate of 40%, Babis was so kind to whittle this down to 35% for the actual legislation that was passed – oh, and that’s prior to the 19% Czech corporation tax is even added! Coincidentally, recent tweets suggested Pennsylvania was gunning for a similar proposition – something we can only hope is wide of the mark.
So, understandably, pro online gamblers are hoping to change a few things. Running from 8-9th June, parties from across the iGaming industry will convene at the Andel’s by Vienna House Prague hotel to encourage positive dialogue.
[A] stage where the most renowned experts across the world will create workshops and share their ideas about how the Czech government can amend the right methods to attract operators and service providers – Prague Gaming Summit website
What’s more, the first 6 months of Czech Republic’s gaming license will be under the microscope, as a report analysing its beginnings has been commissioned and is set for release during the summit. We’re eagerly anticipating the event to see what can be done, and our favourite Swedish games designer is also on board.
Despite the Prague Gaming Summit being a new event, they’ve wasted no time in getting some heavy hitters to support it. Announced recently, NetEnt have become the main stage sponsor as they look to show as much support towards changing online gambling in Czech Republic as possible.
More and more names from respected iGaming companies are being added as we speak, as are government officials -although many are still to be confirmed. Online casino representatives that are down to attend include LeoVegas, Paddy Power and Betfair.
While the Czechs joined a growing list of European countries that offer online gaming licenses, their approach to doing so differs fairly dramatically. Regions such as the UK and Malta have welcomed the market with open arms, while Sweden and the Netherlands are two examples of countries that are considering making changes.
We’re desperately hoping that the latter two don’t include such high GGR tax within their legislation, with early indications suggesting that they won’t. Perhaps Czech authorities will take this into account during the Prague Gaming Summit? Whatever happens, Netent Casino will bring you the fallout.