Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, once again aims to ban gambling. On 17 December, the majority of Bratislava’s councilors voted to ban gambling in response to an anti-gambling petition. The ban will come into effect on 1 January 2021.
According to The Slovak Spectator, the casinos will not be shut down immediately. Instead, the government will not renew their licenses as they expire (the predicted expiration timeframe is between 2023 and 2024), and no new licenses will be issued. At the end of last year, there were 89 gambling venues, two bingo halls and six casinos in Bratislava. In 2019, the city earned €2.76m ($3.38m) in revenue from gambling.
However, casino operators argue that such a ban will not stop the problem, only create more illegal gambling. Róbert Vystavil, one of the operators, stated the current gambling laws are sufficient and “blanket bans” won’t solve anything.
This is a second attempt to curb gambling in the country; the first ban lasted less than two years; it started on 1 May 2017 and ended on 28 December 2018 when the country’s courts declared it didn’t comply with the law. The second ban was approved after a citizen-initiated campaign which was supported by local authorities.
Bratislava is not the only city seeking to ban (or at least manage) gambling, Nitra wants to ban gambling as well, but the city has been struggling to pass relevant laws since 2019.