The case for regulating online gambling can be a tricky matter when factoring in the presence of State-run monopolies and protectionist legislation. Case in point is in Slovakia, where the government has legalized online gambling and is now beginning to enforce its new online gambling regulations.
For the initial stages of its enforcement policy, Slovakia government officials have compiled an online casino blacklist that now includes sixteen operators.
At the end of July, a total of ten operators had been placed on the list. In August, six additional operators have been added to the list, and include some of the most well known global brands in the world of gambling, including 888 Holdings, Bet 365, Bwin, William Hill among others.
The online gambling industry is no stranger to black lists. In the early days of internet wagering – the Wild West days – if you will, wherein regulated online gambling was provided through a handful of offshore jurisdictions, online casino blacklists were the domain of independent watchdogs like Casino Meister and Online Casino Suite. If a casino was withholding payments to players or there was suspicion of foul play, the community at large would come together via forums, sometimes culminating in successful mediation, and other times warranting that an operator be placed on a blacklist for all gamblers to heed.
For most online gamblers – especially the old-timers – seeing an online casino on a legitimate and reputable blacklist would mean that the casino should not be trusted by players and avoided at all costs.
However, this is not the case for Slovakia’s growing blacklist, which the government is using more as a scare tactic for operators, rather than a warning for players.
Under the new online gambling regulations, online casino and poker is only available through the State-owned National Lottery, TIPOS. While online sports betting is permitted, herfty regulations impose a 27% tax rate on gross winnings.
Some operators have already left the market, including Playtech skins on the iPoker network. No word yet on what some of the larger sports betting brands, like Bet 365 plan to do.
In the meantime, Slovakian ISP’s have been given a 10-day deadline to block the blacklisted operators based on their domain name servers. Those parties in non-compliance will be fined 500K Euro.
ISP’s have stated that while they are ready to commence DNS blocks, they will wait until an official judicial order has been made. Thus far, no regulatory compliance guidelines have been given to network operators, O2 and Telekon, nor has there been any fund allocations for implementing the blocks.