Bratislava votes to ban gambling for second time
On 17 December, following a huge anti-gambling petition, the city councillors in Bratislava voted to ban gambling for the second time in three years. The law is set to come into effect on 1 January, 2021. According to The Slovak Spectator, 39 out of 40 council members voted in favour of the ban whilst one abstained.
Other cities are also looking into following the Slovak capital’s footsteps, with Nitra trying to ban gambling since 2019, but failing to produce any significant legislation.
This is in fact not the first but the second time a gambling ban has been introduced in Slovakia. The first attempt lasted for less than two years after its introduction on 1 May 2017. It was abolished on 28 December 2018, becoming ineffective after the Regional Prosecution Services announced that it did not follow the Slovakian law, and this opinion was shared by the Regional Court in Bratislava.
This new law does not indicate that Bratislava’s casinos and gambling venues will close immediately, but instead once their gaming licenses expire sometime between 2023 and 2024, they shall not be renewed.
Mayor of Bratislava Matúš Vallo is hopeful the new law will bring positive changes to the city, but casino and gambling venue operators believe it will not achieve much.
A casino operator in the city named Róbert Vystavil argued that the current legislation is enough, that “blanket bans” will not fix anything and that the current government has done very little to fight illegal gambling. The gambling industry also generates significant revenue for the city – at the end of 2019 there were 89 gambling venues, two bingo halls and six casinos in the city, earning €2.76 million.