The Brno city council has issued a blanket ban on gaming machines as of next year. Councillors on Friday approved a new regulation banning gambling outlets in all 29 districts of the city. The ban was supported by 37 out of 55 councillors.
Brno is the first big city in the Czech Republic to introduce similar regulation. So far, blanket bans on gambling have only been approved in smaller towns, such as České Budějovice. The regulation was pushed through by the new coalition of ANO, Žít Brno, the Greens and the Christian Democrats. The deputy mayor of Brno and member of the civic group Žít Brno, Matěj Holan, had been calling for a blanket ban on gambling machines as an activist before becoming a member of the city council.
The regulation was approved despite the presence of several Brno casino owners, who attended the meeting to voice their disagreement with the ban. The city made its first move towards a blanket ban on gambling in January of this year, when it abolished gaming machines in 23 of its districts, keeping it restricted to certain districts only. The Anti-Monopoly Office however, said that restricting gambling to selected streets was discriminating.
In January 2013, there were over 4,000 gambling machines in the city, but the new regulation has cut their number by half. There are currently only 1448 gambling machines in Brno. Czech municipalities were given greater powers in regulating gambling on their premises, when a Constitutional Court ruling in April of last year struck down legislation that prevented towns and city halls from banning lottery video terminals on their premises until the end of 2014.
The Ministry of Finance this year announced its intention to severely restrict the gambling business in the Czech Republic, which has long been regarded as Europe’s gambling heaven. A draft legislation, which was unveiled by the ministry at the end of this year, bans video lottery terminals in restaurants and petrol stations and introduces a central register of gamblers which would deny certain people, for instance addicts undergoing treatment, access to gambling bars and casinos.
This week, the Finance Ministry also announced plans to double the taxing of table games and betting machines to 40 percent. The new legislation would also impose a 35 percent tax on betting and lottery firms. So far, the gambling business has been subject to a unified 20 percent tax.