The Prague city government is challenging a fine imposed by the Czech Republic’s competition watchdog over its gambling regulations. The city is seeking to overturn the Office for the Protection of Competition decision, which ordered Prague to pay a CZK2.68m ($119,000) fine for rules governing gambling in the city between December 2012 and December 2018. The regulations allowed gambling only in specific locations and at certain times. The town submitted an appeal in May, which was rejected. The fine must be paid by the end of July.
Prague city councilor Adam Zábranský said the city would fight the ruling in court, adding that the watchdog did not consider individual city districts’ ability to regulate gambling. “We want to defend the right of city districts to decide that no gambling will be allowed on their territory,” Zábranský said. “Prague respects the principle of subsidiarity in gambling, which the Office for the Protection of Competition challenges.”
In the previous election cycle, Prague revised its approach to gambling after a similar ruling by the competition watchdog. It issued a new regulation that banned gaming machines and video lottery terminals. Live gaming is currently allowed in Prague, except in districts that have declared a zero-tolerance policy on gambling.
The city government’s move comes as the gambling industry faces increasing government scrutiny and regulation across the globe. In the United States, for example, several states have legalized sports betting recently, while others have moved to ban it. Similarly, the UK has tightened its regulations around online gaming, while Australia has moved to ban offshore betting sites.
Prague’s legal challenge will likely be closely watched by other cities and regions grappling with gambling regulation. As the industry continues to grow, regulators and governments must balance ensuring that the public is protected from the adverse effects of gambling and allowing the industry to continue to operate and create jobs.