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Confusion on Czech Republic Online Gambling
Written On 5/2/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Frank Polliern :
CONFUSION REIGNS ON CZECH INTERNET GAMBLING
U.S. prosecutions resurrect an old debate
The recent prosecution of online poker sites in the U.S. has again focused attention on the situation in the Czech Republic where the lack of formal online gambling regulations has introduced confusion and debate.
Jan Rehola of the department for the state supervision of lotteries at the Czech Ministry of Finance says that the enforceability of the law and the right to close down illegal sites are still moot points in the country and that a powerful lobby has created a reluctance to intervene in Internet freedom.
Radek Ležatka, press spokeswoman at the Ministry of Finance confirms that the Czech Police, when approached, decline to take action, saying that no criminal activity is being committed.
Five firms are currently licensed in the Czech Republic but may only offer fixed-odds-betting reports Czech Position.com. The firms Sazka, Synot Tip, Chance, Fortuna and Tipsport commented on unlicensed foreign companies offering additional forms of gambling to residents of the country.
“If legislation opened the door for other products, such as online casino or poker, we are prepared to roll them out. Foreign operators without any Czech license have a 100 percent market share. The ideal solution for both the Czech state and customers is to open up the Internet lottery business to more products and to create clear, transparent operating rules,” said Zdenek Brázdil, CEO of Chance. ‘We are trying to play by the local rules and to respect this country’s laws.’
Petr Šrain, press spokesman of Fortuna, said that a similar principle is involved here as was two years ago, when legislation banned Internet sports betting. “As far as the legalization of online poker is concerned, the latest news from the Ministry says nothing. The possibilities are certainly very interesting, as is shown by the marketing being conducted in this country by foreign companies. As soon as the opportunity arises, we will get involved. We have services at our disposal. Theoretically we could enter the Czech market right now by way of our Malta-registered company, Fortuna Win. However, we are trying to play by the local rules and to respect this country’s laws,” he said.
Lubomír Ježek, the external relations manager of Tipsport, says foreign betting companies represent unfair competition. “While we have to fight for a license, they ride into this place like it was the Wild West. Now the situation regarding other Internet possibilities in the Czech Republic is very murky. Because of events surrounding Sazka we don’t even know what conditions will be set over the next few years. This is why it makes no sense for us to invest in the development of software. If ever a level playing field is created, then of course we would enter the internet gaming market,” he said.
Founder of Holding Synot, Ivo Valenta, said his firm is interested in the online casinos and poker business. “We already have the requisite infrastructure and we are expanding into regions where this kind of betting is already permitted or is set to be legalized within the next few months. We have the products ready and waiting and we are cooperating with some of the largest Internet gaming operators in the world, such as Boss Media, G-Tech G2 and Lottomatica,” he said.
“Operating online casinos from abroad is not on the cards. We are simply waiting for a change of legislation. We believe that this market will be opened up in the Czech Republic and that our politicians will at last understand, as they do in other countries, that the state will also benefit in terms of tax receipts and fees,” Valenta concluded.
Hopefully the confusion will be resolved with clear online gambling legislation that observers note is unlikely to happen until 2013.
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