Legal and regulatory frameworki Legislation and jurisprudence
The relevant gambling legislation in the Czech Republic is as follows:
- Act No. 186/2016 on Gambling, which sets out the basis for gambling legislation;
- Act No. 187/2016 on Gambling Tax, specifying the gambling tax obligations of gambling operators (tax rate, tax calculation, tax period, etc.);
- Act No. 280/2009 the Tax Code, which covers all tax-related proceedings (gambling, income, VAT, etc.);
- Act No. 500/2004 on the Administrative Code, specifying the rules for administrative proceedings (e.g., licencing, emplacing on the blacklist);
- Act No. 586/1992 on Income Tax;
- Act No. 40/2009 the Criminal Code (operation of unlicensed gambling constitutes a criminal offence);
- Act. No 40/1995 on Regulation of Advertising;
- Act No. 253/2008 the Anti-Money Laundering Act; and
- individual decrees issued by municipalities restricting gambling within their city limits.
The Ministry is the gambling supervising authority. Some gambling aspects are also supervised by the Czech Customs Administration (Customs) and by the relevant local municipalities.
Customs not only supervises land-based gambling operations but it is also the entity with exclusive powers to impose fines for violations of the Gambling Act with respect to land-based gambling. The Ministry supervises both land-based and online gambling, grants, changes or withdraws basic licences but it is only authorised to impose fines with respect to online gambling violations. Last but not least, municipalities grant, change or withdraw licences for gambling venues. Furthermore, municipalities may also issue individual decrees with additional requirements for land-based gambling within their city limits.iii Remote and land-based gambling
The Gambling Act distinguishes between remote and land-based gambling. The most significant difference is that only a one-step licence process is required (basic licence) for the operation of online gambling. In addition to the basic licence, land-based gambling operators need to obtain a gambling venue location licence (second step). Some municipalities may decide to exclude gambling within their territory (or its part), which means that the gambling venue location licence cannot be obtained for that particular location. Online gambling may be carried out within the whole territory of the Czech Republic and cannot be restricted on a local level.
The aim of the Gambling Act is, however, to treat both online and land-based gambling equally and, therefore, the differences between the two are insignificant and usually originate from the nature of land-based gambling (e.g., no internet blocking) or online gambling (e.g., no video surveillance requirements).iv Land-based gambling
The number of land-based gambling venues is not limited by any national or local quota. A municipality may, however, decide to prohibit or restrict land-based gambling within its city limits. In fact, an increasing number of municipalities is imposing such restrictions. Nevertheless, the growth in the number of municipalities imposing such restrictions has slowed down significantly in recent years. According to the latest available figures from 31 December 2020, there were 709 municipalities regulating gambling in their territories (in 2019, there were 706), of which 444 (i.e., 63 per cent) completely banned technical games (in 2019, it was 439).
Some of the largest Czech cities are among the municipalities completely banning technical games – for example Prague, Brno or Ostrava.5 These restrictions have to be carried out in a non-discriminatory way, based on objective and previously known criteria. Municipalities are not allowed to choose one specific gambling operator, which will be allowed on their territory. Municipalities expose themselves to possible sanction by the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition when issuing such restrictions. The threat of relatively high fines from the Office is one of the reasons why municipalities are considering a complete ban on gambling in their territories, which is not discriminatory by its nature.
With respect to types of gambling venues, there are only two types in the Czech Republic: casinos and gambling rooms (sometimes also referred to as gambling parlours).
The differences between the two are mostly seen in the legally permissible types of gambling offered, the number of slot machines and venue opening hours.
Casinos may offer live games, technical games, bingo or a combination of live games with either technical games or bingo, and may be open 24 hours a day. The number of technical game devices (slot machines) is, however, limited. If a casino intends to offer technical games, then at least 30 slot machines must be operated. For each live game table, a casino may operate an additional 10 slot machines. If 10 live game tables are operated throughout the day, then a casino may operate an unlimited number of slot machines, provided that at least 30 are already in operation. There is a minimal tax associated with the number of slot machines as stated in Section V.
Gambling rooms may only offer technical games and must operate at least 15 devices. A gambling room's opening hours are limited to between 10am and 3am. Municipalities may further restrict the opening hours of gambling venues by a decree.
Betting shops (venues offering sports betting or totalisator games) are not considered as gambling venues and, therefore, do not have to meet the same regulatory requirements. Lottery tickets may also be sold without any venue-specific restrictions and, therefore, lottery tickets are normally sold at post offices, tobacco shops, etc. Not even municipalities are empowered to restrict land-based sports betting, totalisator games and sales of lottery tickets within their city limits.v Remote gambling
Remote (online) gambling is generally allowed and the same regulatory obligations as for land-based gambling apply. Only raffles and small tournaments may not be provided online.
Gambling operators need to obtain a basic licence for the operation of online gambling (lotteries, odds betting, totalisator games, technical games, bingo or live games).
Online gambling operators are prohibited from offering or providing any devices (tablets, etc.) to players enabling them to play an online game of chance. If this restriction were not in place, the secondary licence to place a gambling venue that grants municipalities the power to decide whether or not to allow gambling within their city limits would lose its purpose, since online gambling licences are valid within the whole territory of the Czech Republic.vi Ancillary matters
Gambling operators are not required to purchase gambling equipment from licensed entities and are free to choose from a variety of national or even foreign suppliers. However, in order to use a gambling device in a gambling venue, the gambling operator has to get the gambling device certified and obtain a professional assessment and approbation of service worthiness for such a device. Certifications may be issued only by professional entities appointed by the Ministry. According to the list of appointed professional entities maintained by the Ministry (last updated on 27 January 2022), 10 entities are able to issue certifications.
Only an EU- or EEA-based legal entity complying with certain statutory requirements (such as organisational requirements and transparency of ownership structure) may apply for a basic gambling licence. Individuals holding a managerial or similar position within a gambling operator do not require any specific personal licence. An applicant for a basic gambling licence must, however, demonstrate to the Ministry that it possesses substantive personnel and organisational capacity required to carry out its activity. According to the Ministry's guidance note on the basic licence application, an applicant needs to cooperate with at least five individuals who have more than three years of experience with gambling operation and provide the Ministry with excerpts of their CVs.
The Gambling Act requires gambling operators to equip gambling rooms and casinos with monitoring devices, make a back-up copy of their surveillance footage, and store the original and back-up footage for two years.vii Financial payment mechanisms
Under Czech legislation, there are no specific restrictions concerning financial payment mechanisms related to gambling except for AML and KYC obligations (those applicable to gambling providers). Furthermore, there is a blacklist of illegal gambling providers that contains details of their bank accounts to which the providers of payment services cannot transfer any money. As for the use of cryptocurrencies, this issue is not yet comprehensively addressed in Czech law. In essence, they are, among other things, unregulated currency (they are neither issued nor regulated by the central bank). Cryptocurrencies are not funds (under the Act No. 370/2017 Coll., Act on Payment Transactions, as amended) and are not recognised as an official currency in the Czech Republic. Cryptocurrencies are neither electronic money (they do not fulfil the requirements of Section 4(1) of the Act on Payment Transactions), nor non cash funds.
The Czech Gambling Act only deals with funds (both in the case of a player's user account where funds are to be deposited and in the case of winnings that are to be paid in funds). However, as stated above, cryptocurrencies do not meet the definition of funds. Therefore, while some gambling operators accept deposits in cryptocurrencies, they subsequently convert these deposits into the Czech koruna equivalent (legal currency) and pay out winnings in Czech koruna.
Gambling is subject to a special sector tax under the Gambling Tax Act. The tax basis of the gambling tax is the difference between the total value of accepted bets or wagers and the total value of paid winnings (the tax base). The gambling tax rate is 23 per cent of the tax base, with the exception of technical games and, since 1 January 2020, also lotteries that are both subject to a 35 per cent tax rate. Additionally, land-based operators of technical games have to account for a 'minimum tax' per each slot machine, which is 9,200 koruna per calendar quarter. The gambling tax is paid on a quarterly basis. Each gambling operator (even an illegal operator) is subject to gambling tax regardless of the location of its registered seat or main office.
If a gambling operator has a registered seat or main office within the territory of the Czech Republic, then it is subject to corporate income tax. The corporate income tax is 19 per cent of the net income of a company.
If a land-based gambling operator serves drinks, beverages, meals or cigarettes in the gambling venue, then it also has to pay value added tax, which is currently 21 per cent. Gambling operators are prohibited from offering free beverages or cigarettes to players.
Until the end of 2019, players' winnings were not subject to any additional taxation, provided that the players' winnings came from a game held by a licensed gambling operator with a licence from an EU or EEA Member State. Since 1 January 2020, winnings over 1 million koruna are subject to 15 per cent income tax. Each individual lottery, raffle and the state-run 'receipt lottery' winning over 1 million koruna would have to be taxed. The other types of gambling are taxed on a yearly basis if the total winnings from each of the respective types of gambling net of placed bets or wagers exceed 1 million koruna in the relevant year.