Czech report: 43.3% of those aged 15+ gambled in 2019

22 July 2020

A total of 43.3% of Czechs aged 15 or older gambled in the past year, up from 39.8% the year before but below levels in 2017, according to the Czech Ministry of Finance's latest annual gambling report.

In total, 41.4% of those aged 15+ gambled at land-based venues and 11.9% did so online, up from 38.4% playing at land-based venues 9.1% playing online in 2018. Among men, 51.2% gambled while 35.8% of women did so.

Despite gaming machines and betting bringing in more revenue, lotteries were the most popular type of game, with 38.6% of those aged 15+ buying tickets or scratch cards in person, while 4.9% played online lotteries.

The next most popular type of gambling was betting, with 9.8% making a retail bet in 2019, while 7.6% took part in online pre-match betting and 5.7% placed a live bet.

Despite the vertical being the largest source of revenue, only 4.6% of adults said they played retail gaming machines, with a further 1.2% online.

Table games were played at land-based venues by 1.7% of players and online by 1.2%.

The report also used the lie-bet test, a two-question questionnaire, to determine the percentage of people who may be at risk of gambling problems. The questionnaire asks if respondents have lied to a loved one about their gambling and if they feel a need to gamble more money to get the same feeling.

A total of 10.5% of 16-year-olds reported gambling, down from 11.2% the last time the question was asked to this age group, in 2016. National anti-drug coordinator Jarmila Vedralová said the decline was the result of stricter age requirements for gaming machines.

"The good news is that last year, for the first time, there was a significant decline in regular slot games among 16-year-olds. This is probably the impact of the law, which has reduced the availability of technical games for minors," Vedralová said.

The report found that 3.7% of gamblers answered at least one question affirmatively, suggesting some risk of problem gambling, and 1.9% answered both affirmatively, suggesting a “high risk”. Among those who gambled on a game other than lotteries, 10.7% answered one question affirmatively and 5.6% did so for both. Men were far more likely than women to respond to show signs of risk.

The report added that these numbers would mean between 91,800 and 195,500 people may be at risk of problem gambling in the Czech Republic and between 36,900 and 111,700 may be at high risk.

Despite the growth in gambling, the average estimated number of problem gamblers was down 12.4% year-on-year.

As of 1 January 2020, 55 companies were licensed to operate in the Czech Republic, down from 57 a year prior. There are currently around 36,900 gaming machines in the country, across 1,162 venues. There were 2,188 licensed betting shops in the Czech Republic.

The report also noted that loot boxes, which offer “gambling-like features” in video games that may be purchased by children, have grown in prevalence in 2019.

“Their nature, and in particular whether they meet the definition of HH, is currently being assessed by the Ministry of Finance,” it said.

Meanwhile, the country’s gambling tax revenue exceeded CZK10bn (£345.1m/€378.8m/$437.4m) after growing by 4.1% year-on-year.

As previously announced earlier this month, gambling operators in the Czech Republic made CZK36.27bn in 2019, up 15.8% from 2018 but down from 2016 and 2017.

Of the country’s CZK36.27bn in revenue, just over two thirds, CZK24.50bn came from the land-based sector. Of this total, the majority came from gaming machines, which brought in CZK15.11bn. Land-based lotteries, meanwhile, brought in CZK6.21bn, land-based table games CZK2.06bn and retail betting CZK1.10bn. Bingo brought in revenue of CZK8m and totaliser bets a further CZK2m.

Online gambling, meanwhile, brought in CZK11.77bn. This represented 32.5% of the overall gambling market, up from 29.1% in 2018. Most of this came from online betting, which brought in CZK7.73bn, while online slots brought in CZK2.83bn, online lotteries CZK988m and online table games CZK223m.

In terms of game type across channels, slots made up just under half of revenue at CZK17.95bn, while betting brought in CZK8.83bn, lotteries CZK7.20bn and table games CZK2.29bn.

Starting in January 2020, the Czech Republic introduced a new gambling tax system in which taxes are split into three tiers, according to how harmful the government perceives the activity to be. Gambling tax is currently set at 23% of gross gaming revenue (GGR,) with the exception of gaming machines, which are taxed at 35% of GGR.

Lotteries, live games and bingo operators will be taxed at 30% of GGR, up from the current rate of 23%, while the rate for fixed odds betting will rise from 23% to 25%. The Ministry said some of the additional funds from higher taxes will be used to support nationwide problem gambling initiatives.

The country is also planning to introduce a new exclusion register to block a range of individuals - both voluntarily and involuntarily - from gambling, set to launch this year.

Online gambling became regulated in the Czech Republic with the passage of a new Gambling Act in 2017.