In 2017, a new amendment to the Slovak Gambling Act was brought into force, introducing (among other restrictions) a black list and censorship of the websites of non-licensed gambling operators. Since 2018, pursuant to that act, the Slovak authorities have stepped up enforcement against operators running online gambling activities without a licence in Slovakia. In addition, running or advertising of non-licensed foreign gambling games on Slovak territory is subject to rather heavy fines.
In May 2018, a new Gambling Bill was introduced in reaction to increasing popularity of online gambling. The new bill seeks to regulate online gambling rather than fight against it, in particular by establishing a licensing system for commercial online gambling. Nonetheless, a gambling provider will have to meet the condition of having its registered office in Slovakia or another EU member state. In addition, in its current form the bill requires online gambling providers to pay (1) an application licensing fee (€ 3 mil for an online casino), and (2) regular levies (i.e. gambling tax), just like any other licensed gambling providers. The proposed levies for online casino providers are 23% of annual gross gaming revenue.
Moreover, administratively, a new Gambling Office is to be established. It will have broad powers over licensing, inspecting and issuing methodological guidelines on gambling.
In the new bill, most of the previous recently-added rules remain, such as blacklisting (censorship) of non-licensed games, the register of excluded persons (incl. players under 18), etc.
However, it should be noted that we are still referring “only” to a bill, and it is likely that some changes will occur before the final version passes through parliament. According to the current plan, the new Gambling Act should come into force in March 2019, with licensing for online gambling available as from 2020.
The bill proposes a large number of strict rules (e.g. gambling safety measures) and licensing application fees (e.g. € 3 mil for online casino) that might discourage some operators due to the size of the Slovak market, but will also make licences for online gaming available to the global private sector.
We consider this to be a positive step forward in the gambling industry and hope that the practical implementation of the new Gambling Act will bring some fresh air to the world of online gambling in Slovakia.