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TI: Two dozen firms offer online gambling in Czech illegally

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Prague, Jan 18 (CTK)- Some 25 foreign firms with websites in Czech provided unlawful online services, enabling clients to open a web account and deposit money in it at the beginning of the year, Transparency International (TI) Czech branch head David Ondracka told reporters on Wednesday.

The companies thereby violate a new Czech law on gambling which took effect in January, he added.

The Finance Ministry does not take resolute steps against these illegal firms, Ondracka added.

“Our monitoring shows that the biggest sinners are Unibet and Lottoland companies. Bet365 and Betfair interrupted their operation, but they did not switch off their websites,” Ondracka said.

A firm that wants to seek a licence must halt its operation, then pay out the players and modify its software in compliance with law and only then ask the Finance Ministry for a licence.

Its clients must physically register with CzechPoint branches.

According to the TI survey, even some Czech companies violate the law on depositing and withdrawing cash. Under the new law, the daily limit is 5,000 crowns.

Citizens against Gambling (OPH) association head Martin Svoboda says the state budget loses several million crowns a day through illegal gambling.

“The Finance Ministry must immediately call on gambling companies that did not ask for a licence to terminate their activities and switch off their websites. The firms which applied for a licence must temporarily limit their operation and set new conditions,” Ondracka said.

The Finance Ministry should work out the blacklist of illegal firms by the end of January, he said.

TI wants to carry out another monitoring in about 60 days.

“If the companies do not obey, they must be blocked. Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and his team have long been persuading the public that this step is feasible and trouble-free,” Ondracka pointed out.

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