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March 2, 2022

How the Czech Republic deals with online casinos compared to the U.S.

Back in 1956, Sazka SA was established as the leading gambling operator in the Czech Republic. In the early 1990s, Tipsport began offering sports betting services. Soon after, the market was further diversified and Fortuna was established, after which Synop Tip was founded. In 2022, there are now five Czech gambling operators. 

Now, most forms of online casino/betting are legal in the Czech Republic. In 2012, an amendment of the law on lotteries allowed online gambling and in 2016 additional forms of online games of chance were permitted by the 2016 Gambling Act, which is currently is the main piece of the casino gambling regulation. The only catch falls at the feet of the operators who must acquire a license to accept players and must be Czech-based companies or have a subsidiary in the country. However, much like the US, individual cities, regions, or even districts can ban gambling (online and offline) entirely or in certain forms, within their jurisdiction. As of right now, there are as many as 457 municipalities that have implemented a total ban on gambling. Online casinos must also pay large amounts in tax, with operators taxed the same on their revenue as land-based casinos which is currently 35%. This is why many international online operators are hesitant to enter the market in the country as the taxes are simply not worth it.

Although there is blanket legalization in the country, the rules are stricter on operators compared to the US and players may also need to jump through some hoops. In Czech, face-to-face verification is required for all players who wish to play online casinos, although there has been talk of relaxing these laws recently, currently, players have to go to a Public Notary, or the Regional or Municipal Authority and provide government-issued photographic identification document, a second ID document and pay a surcharge of 200 CZK. This is in stark contrast to the US, where players can verify their identity online free of charge. Operators are also not allowed to offer any bonuses (e.g. free spins) to players. Thankfully, states which allow online casino in the US offer tonnes of great offers and bonuses to their players. 

Although the rules on operators may be strict, it has not hampered the industry’s progression. The number of casino venues grew from 180 in 2013 to 299 in 2017, according to the European Casino Association. 

Over the past year, an increasing number of US states have relaxed their gambling laws. Since the supreme court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, states have been able to legalize as they please. Fast forward to 2022 and 29 states now allow by law some form of sports betting. What differs from state to state is that some allow only in-person betting whilst others extend to online betting. 

Whilst online sports betting has made great progress in recent years, online casino is a slightly different conversation. As of writing, there are just six states that allow online casino gambling. These states are; New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Delaware. However, more states are expected to follow in the next year or so. The rules for operators vary state by state so let’s take a quick look at what is on offer. The laws around land-based casinos are tricky. For example, casino games are only allowed on Native American tribal lands in Washington. 

New Jersey

New Jersey is the mecca of online casinos. One of the first states to begin legalization, they offer more apps than any other state with more than two dozen available. Each app/site is regulated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Michigan

Michigan legalized online casino gaming relatively recently but already offers a great range of apps with over a dozen available. They are regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Pennsylvania

Casino players in PA had to wait a while but lawmakers eventually opened up in 2019. Since then the state has expanded from two online casino options to 14. These casinos answer to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Delaware

Options for casino players in Delaware are relatively scarce right now with just three available. This is not too much of an issue however down to the size of the state. Operators in the state work with regulators, the Delaware Lottery.

Connecticut

Connecticut is one of the newest states to open up online casinos, jumping on the train in 2021. The state allows only tribal casinos, meaning there are only two running right now including the DraftKings Online Casino which is in partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

West Virginia

Like NJ, West Virginia was one of the first states to legalize online casinos and sports betting. The West Virginia Lottery Commission serves as the gambling regulator, overseeing four casinos in the state.

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