New Czech Licensing Regime Forces William Hill from MarketJanuary 4, 2017 12:43 pm
On January 1st, the Czech Republic’s new draconian licensing regime was implemented, and around the very same time William Hill announced its exit from the country’s gambling market. As a result, Czech residents are no longer able to gain access to the operator’s assortment of online products, such as casino games, poker, and sports betting, and the UK bookmaker hasn’t indicated whether it would be applying for an official license in the future.
In the meantime, Czech affiliates have been instructed to “remove all marketing materials from their websites (including banners, text links, etc.) that relate to Czech Republic bettors.”
The country’s reforms were given an official stamp of approval by President Miloš Zeman (photo) last July, and are seen as essential in bringing its regulatory framework in tune with EU regulations. Furthermore, the Czech Republic is keen to reign in its online gambling black market which is estimated to be worth around $6 billion a year.
Whether many international operators will be willing to apply for a license is uncertain, however, especially considering the huge 35% tax levied on gross gaming revenues for casino games and poker; 23% tax on sports betting; on top of having to pay the country’s 19% corporation tax rate.
Helping to explain the Czech Republic’s punishing gambling tax framework is the country’s deputy prime minister, Andrej Babis, who also heads its finance ministry. A staunch opponent of online gambling, Babis eventually gave in to EU pressure to allow free cross border trade, but has implemented a system that will dissuade most international operators from ever applying for a license.
Last month the Ministry of Finance disclosed that a dozen companies have so far been licensed to offer online gambling in the country of 10.5 million people, all of which are from the Czech Republic. In the meantime, it would appear that no online poker operators are amongst those companies listed.