Market spins the wheel
A new gambling law is to allow Czech firms to offer internet casinos with roulette, card games and online favourite poker. They are eyeing revenue ‘winnings’ of billions of crowns.
Domestic lottery and betting operators are impatiently awaiting January 2017. After years of planning, they will at last be able to run internet casinos, poker tournaments and other online games which, until now, legislation has forbade. Available estimates anticipate that the fortunes the market will generate are set to run into the single-digit billions of crowns, or perhaps more. The market opening will not only allow Czech firms to strengthen their takings, it will also give them the potential to keep pace with the internet offers of foreign rivals.
International firms such as bwin or bet-at-home already provide their online offers via the worldwide web to Czechs in the Czech language, but without a Czech licence. Their domestic rivals claim this business activity is illegal. From the start of 2017, the foreign market players will also be permitted to request licences to operate on the domestic market just like their Czech competitors. “The betting office companies will operate internet casinos because they will need to remain competitive on the newly opened market,” said Marek Herman, head of the Association of Fixed-Odds Betting Operators.
The experience of foreign markets is that the big commercial players land roughly half of the revenues stemming from fixed-odds internet betting and casino games. “The legal internet casino market in Czechia could reach billions of crowns. But the entire development of the market will depend on one thing: how successful the state is in effectively blocking non-legal operators,” Herman added.
Largest number lotteries operator Sazka is among enterprises preparing for the big online market expansion. It intends to from January offer online its existing portfolio of games, with Sportka, long its strongest such product, spearheading the internet move. Last year, customers gambled some CZK 11 billion (without taking into account winnings) through Sazka, which represented revenue growth of at least a billion crowns.
Czech betting and gaming number one Tipsport, and its subsidiary Chance, is also looking around for potential on the new market. “Tipsport is making careful preparations as regards the legislative changes. It is too early to speculate over whether they also signify changes that relate to our product portfolio,” said company spokesman Václav Sochor.