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Czechs to authorize online gambling?
According to a recent news release from iGamingBusiness, Fortuna Group (a provider of land-based sports betting in the Czech Republic) could be in line to receive a permit to legally provide online gambling services.
For years the Czech gambling proprietors have been fighting for the right to provide their service online and compete with foreign sites that target Czech players.
"There is no legal restriction. So, basically they operate in this country illegally. So we want to have the same opportunities as foreign companies," said Tomas Bahnik from Fortuna Group. Bahnik estimates that the Fortuna Group loses several hundred million euros a year due to its inability to compete online.
The rumors are that Bahnik may be legally allowed to offer online services as early as Monday Jan. 5. "Internet betting is officially allowed from January 5, so I hope we will be prepared and ready to start right from this date," said Bahnik.
The Czech government has always chosen to deny requests to legalize online gambling, afraid that doing so would cause underage and problem gambling to proliferate. Fortuna has come up with a new measure of control to all but eliminate the risk of underage gambling:
"Every person, including teenagers, can use Internet betting without control. Our main goal is to control this situation. If someone wants to bet through Fortuna on Internet, they must register in a bricks and mortar office and show their identification. Only then they are allowed to play."
In an effort to help prevent problem gambling, the Fortuna Group has come up with another tactic. "We don't accept credit cards but only regular payment cards because we don't support gambling and gamblers and we don't want people to become addicted to Internet betting. That's something foreign companies don't do."
If all goes according to plan, and the Czech Republic does legalize online gambling, the ramification for the fight for online poker in the rest of the world will have one more rock to push against. It's to be hoped that this is just the first step of many to come in 2009.