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Forty billion crowns spent on Czech gambling in 2017

16 May 2018

Prague, May 15 (CTK) - People in the Czech Republic spent 39.8 billion crowns on gambling in 2017, which is half a billion more than the previous year, national drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said on Tuesday.

One third of the sum was spent on online gambling, while it was only 3 percent in 2009. "Thanks to the technological development, the increase in enormous. The risk is that younger and younger generations gamble. It is more available," Voboril said.

He said prevention should focus on online gambling.

Voboril, who will leave his post in July, said 1.5 percent of the state revenues from the tax on gambling should go to prevention and treatment.

Finance Minister Alena Schillerova (ANO) opposed the idea.

She said the ministry rejects any effort to earmark parts of excise tax incomes to such purposes because the decision to give the money to such projects should be made during the making of the state budget.

According to estimates, up to 100,000 people in the Czech Republic may be addicted to gambling or have gambling-related problems. Most of the gamblers are middle-aged men and they usually spend 40,000 to 50,000 crowns a month on gambling. Gamblers who decide to be treated to get rid of the addiction usually owe over one million crowns, Council of NGO Association head Helena Rampachova said.

A new law on gambling has been in force in the Czech Republic since 2017. It enabled foreign operators' entry onto the Czech market and gave the green light to online gambling.

It set the rules for issuing licences and the checks of gambling, introduced compulsory pauses in gambling and maximum sums that can be bet and won. It restricted gambling advertisements.

Since January, the tax on hi-tech games has been 35 percent and on the remaining games 23 percent. According to a government analysis, however, the gambling law was amended under the influence of the gambling lobby in favour of the gambling business and to the detriment of the public interest.

Schillerova said the state manages to fight gambling thanks to the law. The number of gambling rooms dropped from 6400 to 1200, she said.

Schillerova said the state received over 12 billion crowns in the tax on gambling for 2017.

She said the state spends more money on drug prevention now. It is to be 175 million crowns this year, while in was 95 million in 2015.

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