GVC pull brands from Czech market to protest licensing regime


gvc-betting-brands-withdraw-czech-republicUK-listed online gambling operator GVC Holdings is withdrawing its brands from the Czech Republic based on its belief that the country’s new licensing regime is unworkable.

Late last week, local poker affiliate PokerArena reported that the Czech-facing sites of GVC brands Bwin and PartyPoker had informed their customers that, while the company had applied for new Czech gaming licenses, GVC had since concluded that the new Czech gaming law is “incompatible with the principles of the European Union.”

GVC had temporarily withdrawn its brands, including Sportingbet, from the Czech market earlier this year in keeping with the requirements of its new license applications. But it seems the suspension of Czech customers will now prove permanent, or at least until cooler heads prevail in the Czech legislature.

GVC insisted that it supported the government’s desire to bring order to its online market and hoped the authorities realized that their goals could only be achieved if operators see value in acquiring local licenses. Until that day comes, customers were told that their future activity on GVC sites would be limited to withdrawing their funds.

Interest in the Czech market’s new regime has been tepid, to say the least. While technology suppliers like Playtech have debuted their products with Czech-licensed online operators, only one prominent international operator – Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars brand – has launched operations under a new Czech license, despite the new market having taken effect five months ago.

Operators have any number of reasons to avoid the Czech Republic, including stiff tax rates that range from 23% of sports betting revenue to as high as 35% for online slots play. There’s also the controversial Czech Point program, which requires new online account signups to take place at designated public administration centers, which international operators believe unfairly favors local betting operators like Fortuna or Sazka.