The Slovakian Finance Ministry (“the Ministry”) yesterday released a blacklist of gambling sites not complying with its newly introduced online gambling regulations.
An original list of 17 operators was compiled, before being reduced after two decided to pull out of the market and another five were told they’d be given a ten day grace period to cease offering services. The current blacklist numbers 10 and includes some familiar names: Bwin, 888, Bet365, William Hill and Bet-at-Home.
It’s a blacklist, not a blocked list. The Ministry don’t yet have the necessary court orders required to force ISP’s to block the blacklisted domains. Apparently these will be sought in coming weeks, against a backdrop of ISP’s very reluctant to cooperate in the absence of government funding to cover the costs they will need to incur to comply.
Slovakia’s new online gambling laws came into being last year. They opened the door for online sportsbooks to obtain a license and offer their services to locals, subject to a 27% tax on revenues; a rate considered unworkable by many operators.
Online poker and casino services were left the exclusive domain of local monopoly operator, state-owned TIPOS national lottery; a policy that may well fall foul of EU law and attract the ire of the European Commission. For this reason, blacklisted operators may choose to remain defiant and look to a ruling from a higher power in the event that Slovakian authorities sought to impose fines prescribed in the legislation (up to €500,000 for offering unlicensed services).
In the meantime, Slovakian players will still find plenty of large live casinos to play at. It may be a while before Slovakian dealers start appearing the language table forums however.