In Slovakia, the city council for the nation’s capital and largest city, Bratislava, has reportedly passed a measure that will ban gambling from the first day of next month although current license holders are to be permitted to continue operating until their existing authorizations expire.
According to a report from The Slovak Spectator newspaper, the body passed the measure against casinos and other gambling venues such as slot parlors on March 30 following months of debate although the license for the city’s Banco Casino inside the Crowne Plaza hotel is not due to expire until 2021, which will be three years after the nearby facility operated by Olympic Entertainment Group in the Eurovea Galleria shopping mall is to be forced to close.
“It will not work in such a way that we will wake up tomorrow and all the gambling venues will be closed but we finally have an instrument to begin pushing them away,” Bratislava mayor Ivo Nesrovnal reportedly stated following last month’s vote.
The newspaper reported that the upcoming ban is expected to see the city lose almost $3.2 million a year in tax revenues for a budget that last year amounted to $365.9 million although Nesrovnal declared that this would not present a problem for the capital or its 433,000 residents.
“We will replace the drop in revenues,” Nesrovnal told the newspaper. “This was not a vote about money but about values.”
The Slovak Spectator reported that the city council attempted to pass a similar prohibition in February but failed to gain enough votes while the looming ban is due to come under scrutiny after the Slovak Association Of Amusements And Games declared that it was prepared to go to court in order to have the move overturned.
“The first vote failed to ban gambling but in today’s vote the regulation passed and the mayor chose the result according to his preferences,” Slovak Association Of Amusements And Games spokesperson Dominika Lukacova told the newspaper before pointing out that the prohibition would most likely lead to a proliferation of illegal gambling.
For its part, Olympic Entertainment Group, which operates four casinos in Bratislava that last year reported gross gaming revenues of $8.7 million, proclaimed that it intended to join with gambling proponents to help overturn the coming ban. The Tallinn-based operator moreover stated that it runs eight casinos in Slovakia that employ some 324 people and chalked up 2016 takings before tax of just over $17.5 million.
“The Bratislava city council has this year adopted two completely contradictory decisions regarding a petition to ban gambling operations,” read a statement from Madis Jaager, Chief Executive Officer for Olympic Entertainment Group. “The position of the Slovak Association Of Amusements And Games is that the second decision adopted by the city council is null and void because it is not possible to adopt multiple decisions concerning the same petition and, therefore, the first decision not to satisfy the petition has to be considered valid. The Slovak Association Of Amusements And Games is planning to challenge the decision from March 30 in court.”