Slot machines should completely disappear from Prague within the next three years.
Lawmakers in the Czech capital Prague have voted in favour of a new decree that would implement a ban on all technical gambling games in the city, with the draft legislation set to go in front of the City Council later this week.
The bill would prohibit all mechanical, electromechanical and electronic games in Prague, including slot machines and video lottery terminals, but would allow live gambling to continue.
On Monday, Prague councilors approved a draft amendment to the law that regulates the gambling business in the city. The final decision will be taken by the Prague City Council on Thursday.
However, the municipality said that if the decree is approved, companies need to remove the slot machines after their permits have expired.
“The last decree on gambling regulation is from 2015. Unfortunately, it did not limit the number of casino gambling rooms. Slot machines are a bad sign for the city because they are the most addictive and are linked to all sorts of crime, so it is both a social and security risk,” councilor Hana Kordova Marvanová said.
The decree will result in the retention of luxury casinos for tourists with live games and the closure of casinos with slot machines, which city officials believe pose huge social risks to the people.
“This is the third decree to regulate gambling in Prague since 2007. Gaming operators often circumvent laws and regulations. The city authorities must immediately respond to these changes in order to reduce the pathological phenomena that arise in connection with the slot machines,” said Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib.
The question though remains how to replace the money that the casinos feed onto the city and local budgets. The money is allocated to sports and cultural facilities.
Last year the City of Prague had revenue of CZK 690 million from gambling establishments.
In November 2019, Prague 7 closed its last gambling site, complying with the zero-tolerance policy against gambling that was enforced in 2015 by a City of Prague decree. While the process took longer than expected, Prague 7 is now completely without gambling.
Back in 2014, Prague 7 held a local referendum in which 92% of the voters decided to favour the zero-tolerance policy.
Over the past seven years, the number of casinos has dropped by three-quarters and the number of gaming machines by nearly half, to under 39,000 at last count.
Since January 2012, the number of casinos is down from 7,600 to roughly 1,800 – one quarter as many.