The Slovak city of Nitra moved forward with a long-anticipated ban on gambling activities that prohibits the establishment of casino rooms across hotels, boarding houses, and public entertainment buildings. Nitra’s authorities adopted a resolution to ban gambling within the city in June 2020. However, its enforcement was delayed due to court challenges. The resolution was driven by a petition signed by over 21,500 locals who insisted gambling to be prohibited.
One of the main reasons for the delay had to do with the issue of losing gambling revenue as a result of the ban. Nitra’s City Councilor Roman Agh insisted the ban was worth considering since it would spare locals from incurring massive gambling losses estimated at €21 million. By contrast, the city loses only €650,000 in annual licensing fees. The Mayor of Nitra, Marek Hattas, stressed that his position on the gambling ban had not changed as he considered it harmful to the local society and economy.
Nitra is not the only city in Slovakia to impose a ban on gambling. Similar measures were introduced in the country’s capital Bratislava just days ago. While gaming rooms and casinos will not disappear from Bratislava right away, their permits for operation will not be renewed after their expiry in 2023 and 2024.
Similarly to Nitra, the decision for a gambling ban in Bratislava was reached as a result of an anti-gambling petition, which led to city councilors voting in its favor with an overwhelming majority. As many as 39 city councilors approved the gambling prohibition while one person abstained.
Bratislava Ban Effective from January 1, 2021
The measure comes into effect at the beginning of 2021. The Mayor of the capital, Mr. Matus Vallo, is confident the prohibition will have a positive impact on Bratislava but not everyone agrees with this opinion. Bratislava gambling operators consider this a poor decision, arguing that one such ban would only cause underground gambling activities to flourish.
Casino operator Robert Vystavil from the Slovak Casino Respect shares these sentiments. Mr. Vystavil commented that the complete bans on gaming in Slovakia and the Czech Republic have achieved nothing in the past. They have proved useless in tackling unauthorized gambling so far according to the casino operator. Mr. Vystavil is of the opinion the country has adequate enough gambling regulations so that an outright ban is unnecessary.
It should be noted this is not the first attempt on behalf of local authorities to prohibit gambling on the territory of Slovakia’s capital and its largest city. Bratislava saw its first blanket ban on such activities in May 2017. However, the decision was revoked toward the end of December 2018.
The Regional Prosecution Service insisted that the prohibition lacked compliance with the local law and the Bratislava Regional Court agreed in June 2018. Bratislava generated gambling revenue of over €2.7 million last year. As of the end of 2019, the Slovak capital was home to 89 gaming venues, 2 bingo rooms, and 6 casinos.