Gambling act to come into effect in March 2019

On 29 January 2019, the Slovak Parliament adopted a new Gambling Act (the “Act”) after overruling the veto of the Slovak president.

The most significant change under the Act is the relaxation of business conditions by opening the online gambling market to private operators, and the Slovak gambling market to foreign operators (companies established in the EU and EEA).

Online game operators will be obliged to allow players to set their financial limitations. Foreign operators will be required to have a representative in the Slovak Republic registered with the gambling authority and be responsible for communication with the respective authority on behalf of the foreign operator.

Notwithstanding the enhanced accessibility of the Slovak market to foreign and private operators, there are aspects of the Act that tighten the current gambling regulations in place. Amendments under the Act include an increase to the obligatory minimum number of devices in one facility from the current 12 to at least 15 units (no more than 40 units may be located in one facility). It is also specified that only one gambling operator will be allowed to operate in a gambling house and the opening hours of gambling houses will be prohibited between 03.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m.

Further key features of the Act include enabling municipalities to establish within their territory that a new gaming house may not be located less than 200 meters away from a competitor, as well as school and gambling treatment facilities.

It also provides for an extension of categories of persons registered in the Register of Excluded Persons for those who do not fulfil their alimony obligation. Registered persons are excluded from playing certain types of gambling games. Additionally, controversial quiz machines will be considered as gambling games under the new legislation and, as such, their operation will only be permissible in gambling houses or casinos.

The Act will become effective on 1 March 2019. It is expected that local governments will try to make further amendments to the Act in order to obtain greater competencies; the Ministry of Finance has already stated that it is open for discussion in this respect.