Slovenian Gambling Market Remains Restricted to Private and Foreign Investors
After almost three years, the Slovenian Government has decided not to amend the Slovenian Gambling Act as the coalition failed to reach an agreement on the proposed amendments. According to the draft law, the Slovenian gambling market for “special” gambling in casinos and on-line would have been open to private and foreign investors; however, this has now been postponed to autumn 2018, after the next elections takes place.
The Slovenian Gambling Act
At the outset, it is important to note that the Slovenian Gambling Act differentiates between “classical” gambling (i.e. lottery, bingo, sports betting), where a de facto monopoly is established, and special gambling (i.e. table games like poker, roulette, blackjack). Classical gambling may be organised permanently or occasionally and special gambling may be organised in casinos or gambling salons (gambling salons may only organise games on slot machines). Both types of gambling may also be organised on-line. However, for the purposes of this article, our focus is on special gambling in casinos and on-line as according to the draft law these two markets would have been open for private and foreign investors.
Under the current Slovenian Gambling Act, only a Slovenian registered company in which the majority shareholder is either the Republic of Slovenia, municipalities or state owned companies holding a gambling licence, may organise special gambling in casinos. Private owners may only own 49% of such a company. Moreover, only a Slovenian registered company already holding a gambling licence for organising special gambling in casinos or permanent classical gambling may apply for an on-line gambling licence. Consequently, the current legislation does not allow private and foreign investors to freely enter the Slovenian gambling market.
Proposed amendments to the Slovenian Gambling Act
In 2012, the European Commission notified the Republic of Slovenia that its Gambling Act is in contradiction with European legislation. Slovenia responded by preparing a new draft law, which would allow companies with their registered office in the Republic of Slovenia and in other EEA Member States to apply for a gambling licence and would abolish the strict state ownership requirement of the companies that can organise special gambling in casinos and, consequently, on-line special gambling. In addition, the draft law would also abolish the requirement that only companies that are already holding a gambling licence for organising special gambling in casinos or permanent classical gambling may apply for an on-line gambling licence. Instead, a new licence for organising on-line special gambling would be introduced. As mentioned above, however, the Slovenian Government has decided not to pursue this amendment until the next governmental term in autumn 2018.
It remains uncertain exactly how and when the future Slovenian Government will amend the Slovenian Gambling Act. Nevertheless, it is likely that the Act will eventually be amended as it is in breach of European legislation. Until then the Slovenian gambling market for special gambling in casinos and on-line remains restricted to private and foreign investors.