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Czech Ministry of Finance Defends its Decision to Increase Gambling Tax

Niji Narayan

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Czech Ministry of Finance Defends its Decision to Increase Gambling Tax
Photo Source: radio.cz
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The Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic has defended its decision to introduce higher taxes on certain gambling activities, after a national newspaper claimed the tax hike would harm the country’s land-based market. The Ministry said that income from the higher taxes will help support its efforts to protect people from gambling-related harm.

From January 2020, a new structure will split taxes into three tiers, according to how harmful the government perceives the activity to be. Gambling tax is currently set at 23% of gross gaming revenue (GGR,) with the exception of gaming machines, which are taxed at 35% of GGR. Lotteries, live games and bingo operators will be taxed at 30% of GGR, up from the current rate of 23%, while the rate for fixed-odds betting will rise from 23% to 25%.

Jiří Dolejš, a member of the parliamentary budget committee for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), said the government should reconsider the decision before implementing the new regulations.

Dolejš put forward an alternative proposal whereby the rates for lotteries, live games, bingo and fixed odds betting would remain the same, but the tax rate on gaming machines would be increased from 35% to 38%. He added that the government should be focused on tackling online gambling, claiming the channel was riskier than certain forms of land-based gambling.

“The main intention is to raise taxes for slot machine operators, which are the most harmful. The point is to reasonably maintain different rates of gambling taxation according to social risk, but the Ministry of Finance was not interested in this debate,” Dolejš said.

Central Europe

SAZKA to Acquire Novomatic’s Stake in Casinos Austria

Niji Narayan

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Casinos Austria-Sazka
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SAZKA Group has reached an agreement to acquire Novomatic AG’s 17.19% shares in Casinos Austria AG. This transaction is in the best interest of CASAG to have key and long term shareholders aligned. Novomatic AG will further keep its 11% shares in Österreichische Lotterien GmbH.

SAZKA Group publicly assures and promises to ÖBAG fair Supervisory and Management Board representation for the future, regardless of size of SAZKA Group shareholding in CASAG.

“The previous ownership structure has led to no satisfactory development of Casinos Austria. As the smallest major shareholder, we have therefore decided to sell our CASAG shares in order to allow CASAG a clear ownership structure. It is important to enable a stable and sustainable shareholder structure that secures the company in the long term for the future challenges of national and global markets,” Harald Neumann, CEO of Novomatic AG said.

“We believe it is the best solution for the company. We want to ensure stable positive development for CASAG in a long-term partnership of its two biggest shareholders. We are committed to work jointly with ÖBAG and CASAG team to achieve well-being for its customers, employees and communities we do business with. We are prepared to focus on CASAG business and bring innovations to the market,” Robert Chvatal, CEO of SAZKA Group said.

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Central Europe

Prague Court Rules Against Casino Kartáč

Niji Narayan

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Prague Court Rules Against Casino Kartáč
Photo Source: anadventurousworld.com
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The District Court for Prague 1 has ruled in favour of the Czech government in a legal battle with Casino Kartáč over online roulette.

The case dates back to 2006, when the company lobbied the Ministry of Finance to allow it to operate the game. However, the Czech authorities refused to give it a permit for online roulette, even later as well, after regulations passed.

Casino Kartáč filed a lawsuit against the Ministry, demanding it a €270.3 million payment in calculated lost revenue, plus interest.

However, the company was unsuccessful, just like it already was with the District Court. Previously, they have noted that the lost revenue was totally hypothetical and dismissed the claim. However, the Czech Supreme Court ordered to reconsider the online roulette payment case.

“Despite the fact that this was a protracted dispute lasting more than five years, the courts repeatedly support the Ministry of Finance,” Czech Finance Minister Alena Schillerová said.

“I am glad that our lawyers effectively defend the state’s interests in these disputes without having to hire expensive external law firms,” ÚZSVM director Kateřina Arajmu said.

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Central Europe

Slovak Authorities Charges Tipos CEO with Money Laundering Case

Niji Narayan

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Slovak Authorities Charges Tipos CEO with Money Laundering Case
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Slovak authorities have charged two employees of the Tipos national lottery on charges of violating their duties and money laundering. The CEO of the lottery, Ján Barczi, and the head of the IT department, Miloš Prelec, were charged.

Both are accused of “violating their duties when managing entrusted property and of money laundering,” Slovakian police wrote on their Facebook page.

The National Criminal Agency of Slovakia (NAKA) is investigating Tipos for allegedly allowing money to pass from gambling accounts to private bank accounts without placing any gambling bets.

The national gambling company has been under investigation by NAKA for more than a year. In April 2018, the company closed 142 player accounts on suspicion of being part of a money laundering scheme. Tipos said at the time about 260,000 euros was laundered, though authorities continue to investigate whether the number is larger.

Thirty NAKA members participated in last month’s raid on Tipos following a tip about the scheme from a whistleblower. NAKA was looking for evidence of the alleged money laundering.

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