Slovakia’s government has published its inaugural blacklist of online gambling domains considered to be serving local punters without local approval.
On Monday, Slovakia’s finance ministry released the first 10 names on the country’s online gambling naughty list. The rogues’ gallery of domains includes familiar faces such as 888 Holdings, Bet365, Bet-at-Home, Bwin, William Hill and 1xbet, along with the Curacao-licensed Eatsleepbet.com plus the Malta-licensed LVbet.com and Kajot-casino.com.
The ministry issued a note on Monday saying it had issued warning notices to 17 online gambling operators, 10 of which ended up on the blacklist. Two other operators had withdrawn their services from Slovakia voluntarily, while five more had been given 10 days in which to wrap up their local operations before the whip comes down.
Some operators had exited the Slovakian market in recent months after the government announced it would begin enforcing its new gambling regulations, under which online sports betting licensees must pay 27% tax on their gross gaming revenue from local punters. Online casino and poker activity remains the sole responsibility of the state-owned TIPOS national lottery.
The blacklisted domains have yet to be officially blocked, although the ministry claims to be seeking court orders to implement specific domain blocks in the coming weeks. However, local internet service providers have expressed frustration at the government imposing fresh responsibilities on them without allocating any funding to account for the extra work.
The ministry will also put pressure on local financial institutions to cease processing payments on behalf of any blacklisted operator. Operators who continue to serve Slovakian punters without authorization are subject to fines of up to €500k, although, as other European Union regulators have discovered, levying fines is a lot easier than collecting.
Slovakia’s harshening attitude towards gambling isn’t limited to the digital realm. In April, officials in the nation’s capital Bratislava banned gambling – but not sports betting shops or lottery retailers – within city limits, although current casino and slots hall operators will be allowed to continue operating until their existing licenses expire.