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By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:
The Slovakian Ministry of Finance have unveiled a blacklist of 10 online casino sites who are operating illegally in the country without adequate local licences.
The online casino operators are set to be blocked once the ministry has received the necessary court orders.
The blacklist contains some of the world’s most recognisable casino brands including William Hill, 888 Holdings, Bwin, Bet-at-Home, Bet365, and 1xbet. The list also features Curacao-licensed Eatsleepbet.com, as well as Malta-licensed Kajot-casino.com and LVbet.
Though only 10 casino sites appear on the Slovakian blacklist, the ministry has announced that 17 operators in total have been issued notices. Of the seven that do not appear, two have voluntarily withdrawn their websites, and the remaining five have just 10 days to cease their Slovakian operations.
The Ministry of Finance are to ensure that Slovakian banks no longer process gambling and casino related payments and have the authority to issue fines of over €500,000 to errant casino operators.
The move caps a difficult period for the gambling and online casino industry in the Slovakian market that began last year when the government amended the country’s Gambling Act. Sports betting operators must now acquire local licences as well as pay a 27% GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue) tax. In addition, the government preserved the state monopoly of online casinos and poker which is run by TIPOS, the national lottery operator.
Last December, Slovakian President Andrej Kiska signed a further amendment into the Gambling Act to create a register of welfare recipients and people diagnosed with problem gambling pathologies. Anyone on the register would be prohibited from gambling based upon an agenda of addiction prevention and responsible gambling.
The amendment also offered the country’s capital, Bratislava, the opportunity to ban gambling within the city’s confines, if enough residents signed a petition.
By March, over 136,000 residents had signed, of which 98,000 were found to meet the proper standards. This number was great enough to trigger a vote in the city’s government, which passed the motion by 27 to 0.
The legislation was expected to come into force in May, but is facing a longer road as opposition to the blanket measure sustains.
IC Notes: One of the most striking aspects of Slovakia’s legislative curb on gambling is the creation of the register, a blacklist of citizens who will no longer be permitted to gamble. Despite the UK’s constant wrestle with the issue of problem gambling, no such draconian solution has yet been posited. Would such a measure gain any popular traction here? Strangely, in the contemporary populist moment, it’s not too hard to imagine support for a register of welfare scroungers and sorry addicts to gain momentum.
With the introduction of the smoking ban, the public’s libertarian bent seems to have eased a bit. A little state interference may even save a lot of lives. Still, you would think this is one step too far.