Regional court of bratislava lifts 2017 gambling ban

Yesterday, the Regional Court in Bratislava reversed the ban imposed on gambling in the city. Under the Court’s ruling which said that the ban was not in line with the law, gambling will once again be legal in the capital of Slovakia.

As a result, gambling venues in Bratislava would not be forced to shut down and would be able to continue operating in the city.

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Ivo Nesrovnal, the Mayor of Bratislava, said that the Court’s ruling literally crushed the opinion of more than 135,000 citizens of Slovakia’s capital and all people who oppose gambling. As a response to the Regional Court’s decision, he said that the city is to take the legal matter to the Supreme Court.

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Still, the Regional Court in Bratislava did not make a ruling on the ban itself but on the way in which the ban was introduced by authorities. The decision for the gambling crackdown in Bratislava was made by the City Council at the second attempt at the end of March 2017 and came into force in May 2017. The current ruling of the Regional Court in Bratislava excludes the possibility of a new vote on the matter to be held.

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Land-Based Gambling Operations Remain Legal in Bratislava
The Bratislava City Council imposed a ban on gambling operations in the city as of May 1st, 2017. Under the authority’s decision, the current gambling license holders were allowed to continue offering its services until the expiration dates of their existing licenses. The Slovak Gambling Operators Association opposed the decision for the ban at the time when it was adopted and shared plans to challenge it in court.

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As mentioned above, the ban on gambling operations in the city was adopted at the second attempt, as the first one that took place in February 2017 turned out unsuccessful. At the time of the first vote on the matter, which was initiated by a petition signed by about 130,000 citizens who required a gambling ban in the city, the measure was not backed by the necessary number of Council members.

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Then, a second vote took place on March 30th, 2017 to see an absolute ban being imposed on gambling in Slovakia’s capital. The ban came into force at the beginning of May 2017, with 300 gambling facilities across Bratislava being set to stop operating by 2021 when the last gaming licenses are set to expire.

According to city officials, the ban would have lead to annual tax revenue losses of approximately €3 million for the capital of Slovakia. At the time when the gambling crackdown was announced, the Mayor of the city explained that Bratislava would do whatever possible to minimize the losses which were expected to result from the ban.
Now, the Association of Entertainment and Gambling (AZAH) commented on the Court’s ruling and said that in Bratislava there are no sensible regulations focused on gambling regulation. Still, the number of gambling venues in the city declined as a result of a new regulatory rule which was deployed at the beginning of 2018. Under the regulation, certain restrictions on gambling were placed in Slovakia’s capital.