Slot machines could disappear completely from Prague as city officials seek to cleanse the capital of the Czech Republic of the "most addictive" form of gambling.
Earlier this week, a Prague MP voted in favor of a new decree calling for a complete ban on all slot machines throughout the city. The bill is planned to be discussed and voted on in the City Council today.
According to a recently introduced bill, all mechanical, electromechanical and electronic games in Prague should be removed from city gambling halls. These include, among others, slot machines and video lottery terminals.
The law does not apply to board games. If today the law receives the necessary support from the Prague City Council, it will lead to the closure of all gambling establishments intended only for slot machines in the Czech capital. Luxury casinos, which cater mainly to tourists and offer table games, will continue to operate.
A complete ban on slot machines will lead to the loss of a large taxpayer in Prague. According to official statistics, the city’s gambling establishments generated 690 million CZK (about US $ 30.7 million) in slot machine revenue last year. Local news outlets report that the city has not yet developed a compensation plan for the losses.
Commenting on the impending ban on slot machines, Prague City Councilor Hana Kordova Marvanová said:
Gambling machines are a bad sign for a city because they are the most addictive and linked to all types of crime, so they are both a social and physical security risk.
The proposal to ban slot machines is the third gambling regulation discussed by the leaders of Prague over the past decade. Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib, in turn, said:
Previous attempts to restrict gambling in the city have been unsuccessful as gambling operators have found ways to circumvent laws and regulations.
Mayor Grzyb added:
The City must respond immediately to these changes in order to reduce the pathological phenomena associated with slot machines.
If the city council approves the proposed ban on slot machines today, it will be some time before all gaming devices disappear from Prague. According to the draft decree, operators will be required to remove their slot machines after the expiration of the permits. Some of these permits are expected to be valid until 2023.
In 2015, gambling establishments in the Prague 7 municipal district of the capital of the Czech Republic were banned by a decree signed by the city authorities. The last gaming hall in the area closed in November 2019 to mark the completion of a process that took longer than originally expected.
The closure of gambling establishments in Prague 7 was supported by 92% of all voters in a local referendum held in 2014.