The recent seizure of the online poker domains in the United States has elicited somewhat identical, though not unified, responses from the five legally licensed online gambling operators in the Czech Republic. These operators are Sazka, Synot Tip, Chance, Fortuna and Tipsport and are allowed to offer only fixed-odds games. They are at a disadvantage as compared to the large number of offshore online casino and poker operators who are servicing the Czech market without fear.
Zdenek Brazdil, CEO of Chance, averred, "We are trying to play by the local rules and to respect this country's laws." He advocated that the government should open up the online gambling market with complete regulation to products like casino and poker. The local operators are ready with these products but would like to compete only in a localized environment. Petrarain, the press spokesman of Fortuna, expressed the same sentiments. He added that he was disappointed because the government was not showing any inclination to legalize and license the other products.
Lubomar Jeayek, the external relations manager of Tipsport, was a bit more aggressive in voicing his disappointment at the online gambling scenario in the Czech Republic. Commenting on the unfairness of the situation he said, "While we have to fight for a license, they ride into this place like it was the Wild West." Unlike Chance and Fortuna, Tipsport is not ready to roll out online casino and online poker at a moment's notice. Jeayek said that there was no clarity as to what would happen over the next few years. Therefore they do not want to invest in the development of software. He added that once a legalized and regulated regime is created they would enter with other online gambling verticals.
Synot was one step ahead of the pack. Its founder, Ivo Valenta, said that they had online casino and poker products ready in conjunction with some of the largest names in the industry, such as Boss Media, G-Tech G2 and Lottomatica. They are venturing into regions where online gambling is already permitted or is set to be legalized within the next few months. However they would not offer banned products in the Czech Republic unless the laws are amended. He added, "We believe that this market will be opened up in the Czech Republic and that our politicians will at last understand, as they do in other countries, that the state will also benefit in terms of tax receipts and fees."
Government sources said that the enforcement agencies like the police are unwilling to take action against the sites operating illegally from offshore destinations. They cite lack of legal clarity and powerful lobbies acting in favor of Internet freedom as the reasons.
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