Slovakian authorities release first round of blacklisted casinos

Slovakian authorities are staying true to their commitment to crackdown on online gambling, with the Slovakian Ministry of Finance releasing the names of the first 10 online gambling sites that will be blacklisted from offering their services to players in the country.

Included on the blacklist are big names like William Hill, Bet365, 888 Holdings and BWin. The Ministry announced 17 online gambling providers were originally on the blacklist, but two of them voluntarily withdrew from the Slovakian market, while the other five were given a 10-day grace period to cease operations in Slovakia. Those operators who do not leave could face fines upwards of $500,000.

The blacklisted sites have yet to be officially blocked, but the Ministry is in the process of obtaining court orders that will force internet service providers (ISP’s) to comply. A lack of government funding means ISP’s have been reluctant to obey as they will be required to foot the bill for any costs incurred with implementing the blocks.

The introduction of the blacklist comes after Slovakian authorities announced last month they would be cracking down on illegal gambling sites, a move made possible by the new online gambling legislation that was introduced late last year.

As part of the new gambling regulations, online sports betting sites are required to obtain a Slovakian gambling license and pay 27% tax on all their gross gambling revenue made by Slovakian players. Online casinos and poker remain under the monopoly of the state-owned lottery provider, TIPOS, deeming it illegal for any offshore casino or poker site to service the Slovakian market.

The Ministry of Finance will be keeping a close eye on the blacklisted operators, while requiring Slovakian banks to block any payments made to the blacklisted sites.

Is Slovakia setting the precedent for other countries?

With many countries in the process of amending their online gambling regulations, it will be interesting to see if Slovakia’s methods are used as examples for other jurisdictions.

For example, in Australia the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill aims to stop online casino sites from operating within the grey-area market. Like Slovakia, Australia’s new laws will make it illegal for any online gambling operator to offer its services to Australian players, unless it has obtained a license from a relevant Australian state or territory. The industry has been waiting to see how the Australian government intends to implement these new laws, and it’s possible they may look to Slovakia as inspiration for the blacklisting method.

Gambling giants like William Hill and Bet365, who are on Slovakia’s blacklist, are big players in the Australian market, so a further blacklist against them could be seriously damaging to their businesses.

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