Gambling vanishing from Prague

Some districts have completely eliminated casinos, others are holding on to a few

Prague has been fighting against gambling. According to the decision by Prague City Hall in 2015, there should be no gambling bars, only the casinos that have to apply for a license from the Finance Ministry.

How many casinos may be allowed in each city district and where is decided byindividual town halls. Some town halls have chosen zero tolerance, while others were not so strict.

Not only does getting rid of gambling establishments help in the fight against gambling addiction, which is seen as a problem in the Czech Republic, it also frees up locations so they can become more productive parts of the neighborhood. Gambling bars in particular have been linked to petty crime, as people steal to support their gambling habits.

Prague 2 and Prague 6 now have no gambling bars or casinos.

In 2011, there were 694 gaming facilities in Prague 2. Gradually, however, thanks to an amendment to the Gambling Act and the regulatory decree by the City of Prague, their numbers decreased until all the gambling rooms in Prague 2 have been completely abolished, the Prague 2 Town Hall recently announced in its newspaper.

Prague 4, 5 and 7 have also announced zero tolerance of gambling and are waiting for the Ministry of Finance to complete the procedure for withdrawing licenses. Currently, there are three gambling establishments in the Prague 7 district. Prague 7 Councilor Ondřej Mirovský, (Greens) said that since the 2015 decree has been in force, gambling places have been disappearing in the district but slower than the Prague 7 Town Hall would like. He added that the legal process with the Finance Ministry is quite complicated.

The district is hoping current Finance Minister Alena Schillerová (Independent) will speed the process for canceling the remaining licenses.

Prague 4 is in a similar situation and awaits the abolition of 14 establishments. The former locations of gambling establishments in that district now serve as a restaurant, café and tearoom, bistro, shops and services such as a photo studio.

Prague 3 is not seeking zero tolerance, though the numbers have been greatly reduced.

“At present, there are five casinos in Prague 3 that adhere to the Code of Conduct and operate smoothly. Therefore we will not demand zero tolerance,” Prague 3 spokeswoman Michaela Luňáčková told daily Pražský deník. Some 121 gambling establishments have been closed, though.

Whether any more changes will happen in Prague 1, which includes most of the city’s tourist attractions, is not clear. There are now 21 casinos in Prague 1. Prague 1 Deputy Mayor Petr Hejma (STAN) says the district is currently monitoring and evaluating the activities of these companies.

Prague 8 also has 21 casinos but plans to reduce this to 18. Prague 10 is also looking at further reductions from 14 casinos, but what will happen will become clear only after February.

News site Al Jazeera in September 2016 reported that the Czech Republic had double the average number of gamblers per capita than in other European countries and may have as many as 110,000 “pathological gamblers,” citing Czech government and EU statistics.

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