Slovakia parliament approves liberalized online gambling rules


slovakia-online-gambling-liberalizationSlovakia’s online gambling market is set for a shakeup after legislators approved plans to scrap the local online monopoly.

On Tuesday, Slovakia’s parliament approved new gambling regulations that the Ministry of Finance originally announced this spring. Assuming Slovakia’s president signs the new measures into law, international operators will finally be able to apply for local gambling licenses.

The new regime will begin accepting applications for online casino licenses as of March 1, 2019, with license approvals to be issued starting July 1, 2019. Online sports betting license applications will be accepted starting July 1, 2019, but the licenses won’t take effect until July 1, 2020.

Online sports betting and casino licenses will cost operators €3m apiece, although operators interested in offering both products can save €1m by signaling their interest in applying for both.

Licenses will be valid for 10-year terms, but operators who want to offer both online and land-based betting will be given 5-year licenses with an option to extend for an additional 5-year term at the operator’s discretion.

International operators who wish to operate online will have to establish a relationship with a local representative who will serve as the operators’ government liaison.

The government won’t accept license applications from any operator if their domains – or those of any of their affiliated companies – have appeared on the country’s online gambling blacklist in the 12 months preceding their application filing.

Operators will pay 22% tax on their online gambling revenue. The state-owned TIPOS will retain its online monopoly over lotteries, bingo and raffles, but will now compete equally with private operators for the rest of the online market.

The government will create a new Office for Regulation of Gambling, which will assume the oversight role currently performed by the Ministry of Finance. This new office is expected to have an annual budget of €6m that will be funded by an additional 0.7% tax on gross gaming revenue.