The Czech National Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction recently published a report which revealed this country was on the verge of a problem gambling crisis.
According to the study, around 120.000 Czechs were suffering from gambling-related addiction in 2016. While this represented an increase of 16%, the number of people affected by problem gambling behavior was getting near to a staggering figure of half a million!
More Addicts, Bigger Debt
Players with gambling problems have an average debt of around $55,000 per person, with a total of $1.8 million spent on gambling services during the last year.
This is the third year in a row this report is published, and as it was the case with the previous two it included the information about the popularity of gambling activities and services in the Czech Republic.
During the twelve months of 2016, the most popular gambling activities in the country were gaming machines, scratch cards, lotteries and online gambling.
Problems With the Current Law
The new gambling law in the Czech Republic came into effect on January 1, replacing the country's outdated legislation dating back to 1990s. The new legal framework was in accordance with EU regulations and aimed to clearly define what was legal and what was not.
One of the goals of the new regulations was to institute the issue of online gambling licenses to interested parties since from the legal point of view, foreign-based online gambling operators were operating in a gray area.
Czech legislators intended to prevent any unlicensed operators, while the measures of doing that included IP blocking. However, this hasn't happened this year and the unlicensed operators are still offering their services to the Czech-based consumers.
Another problem appeared since the new law was enforced. Many of the big industry players left the country due to strict regulations, including William Hill and GVC, while other companies seem uninterested in entering the Czech market.
According to available information, none of the operators that fled the Czech Republic in the months before and after the new law was adopted will return to the country in the foreseeable future.
The research conducted by the National Monitoring Center for Drug and Addiction shows the legalization of online gambling could lead to the further rise in the number of people affected by problem gambling.