Partypoker has finally been granted an online gambling license by the Czech Republic. This comes more than a year after the poker operator withdrew its original license application.
The Czech Republic has a newly regulated online gambling market and has authorized only a handful of online gambling sites such as PokerStars to operate in the country. The country granted the first ever online gambling license to PokerStars after it introduced new regulations to its gambling market last year.
Market Re-Organization Drove Major Players Away
As part of the re-regulation which took effect on January 1, 2017, international gambling operators were given permission to develop a licensed presence in the country. New regulations enabled licensed casinos to avoid the gray area and operate in a regulated environment in accordance with necessary regulations, including paying the right amount of taxes.
New regulations were expected to pave the way for big firms to enter into the market, but the country’s complex bureaucracy, restrictions on bonus offers and high taxation have pushed key players away from the newly regulated market.
While no details have been disclosed yet on when partypoker will establish its local .cz website and go live in the country, the Czech Finance Ministry has announced it has included the operator in its whitelist of approved operators as of November 10, 2018.
PokerStars, which is owned by the Stars Group, is currently the only foreign operator to run a local website in the Czech Republic. The online poker giant went live in February 2017. Since then a few more online gambling operators have received approval for their licenses and partypoker is one of the recent additions.
Not An Easy Road For Partypoker
Prior to acquiring a license, Partypoker has gone through a number of challenges, including the temporary suspension of its Czech operations in the wake of the market’s re-regulation. Not long after, Partypoker announced it was withdrawing its initial license application owing to the country’s reformed regulatory regime.
In withdrawing its application, Partypoker, owned by Isle of Man-based GVC Holdings, said the country’s new licensing procedures did not adhere with EU principles. In its announcement, the operator said it might submit a new application once the Czech authorities came up with a resolution.
Local Market Remains Unattractive to Big Companies
With the country’s complex and lengthy application process, foreign online gambling firms are finding it hard to get into the local market. Add to that the huge taxes licensees will have to pay, which include a 19 percent corporate tax, a 23 percent levy on online sports betting revenue, as well as 35 percent on online casino revenues.
The Czech government decided to impose a much higher gambling tax compared with other countries, making it an unattractive gaming market for top iGaming operators.
Drop in Unauthorized Sites
Non-government groups which include Transparency International had criticized the government for failing to deal with unlicensed operators who service local players. Among the violators tagged are Betfair and bet365.
Since the market’s re-regulation, the number of foreign companies servicing the online poker players in the Czech Republic has significantly dropped by more than 90%  based on information provided by the finance ministry says. The government says the newly regulated market is proof that the new amendments have  done a great job in eliminating unauthorized operators from the market.
Modest Growth Since Re-regulation
Despite significant developments in the online gambling market, the country is still struggling to attract major players in the industry. The country’s failure to get as many big names to the market as possible has something to do with the local gaming space’s lack of appeal as well as the implementation of the country’s new gambling laws.
As a result of considerable tax hikes and license fees imposed by the Czech government, the revenue it took in from the gambling industry hit a new high of CZK12.2 billion in 2017. However, the Finance Ministry is predicting a fall in gambling take this year, which would eventually stabilize in the coming years.
Partypoker has been on a mission for the last 24 months to expand its operations into new territories, boost its brand image and once again become one of the top online poker rooms in the world. Partypoker now has a chance to establish itself in the Czech market but the going will be tough.

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