Slot machines can return to the statutory city of Chomutov after five years. The votes of JA, the KSČM and the Nový sever movement approved it by the city council. The city pledges 30 million kroner a year in tax on gambling and wants to partially repair the budget deficit.
But according to the opposition, these revenues in the city coffers mainly mean much higher losses from the pockets of the residents of Chomutov, who first have to ‘feed’ the machines.
Calculating the cost of this income is very simple. A tax rate of 35% applies to technical games such as slot machines. The money raised is then divided between the state and the municipality in the ratio 35:65. As the opposition pointed out, local players have to leave a whopping 130 million crowns in the ‘casino’ to get 30 million crowns on the municipal budget.
“City hall wants to get money in the budget to destroy the lives of many city dwellers and their families. If you don’t have debts yet, you can earn them from gambling. It’s like going back in time to the mafia years, when the profit from gambling was more important than the quality of life in the city, ‘said Marian Bystroń, president of the representative club PRO Chomutov.
It was the PRO Chomutov movement that enforced the gambling ban in 2015, shortly after winning the municipal elections. However, the then coalition with ANO and the KSČM later disintegrated. The coalition groups ANO, Nový Sever and KSČM have the majority of their seats on the current council.
Croupiers in vests
On the return of gambling in Chomutov, local citizens and representatives of the non-profit sector voiced their disagreements at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Gambling has not been beneficial in the long run,” said Barbora Musilová of the People in Need organization. “Let’s not be blinded by the vision of quick wins,” she added.
The student at the local gymnasium, in turn, pointed out the potential costs, such as the increased number of police patrols due to increasing crime, or the costs of possible lawsuits. And there was also a debate about the concrete shape of future casinos.
“Chomutov used to be a classic casino with croupiers in vests,” said opposition representative Jan Rödling. ‘But after a while it went bankrupt, and that was at a time when there was no regulation. So it is clear that in fact they can only be playrooms, ”he added.
The decree does not de jure allow casinos, but casinos. However, under the Gambling Act, it is sufficient for the establishment of a casino to add a long series of ‘technical games’, i.e. slot machines, to the ‘live game’, such as roulette, a wheel of fortune or regular dice . As a result, there are a large number of casinos in the Czech Republic called casinos.
The negative effects of gambling on the players themselves are described, for example, in the annual report of the National Observatory for Drugs and Addictions. According to this report, most of the players treated have an anxiety-depressive disorder, a fifth of them are on antidepressants or insomnia, and about half are considering suicide.
Family problems, increasing crime and other public costs then convince more and more municipalities of a total gambling ban on their territory.
Technical games have previously been banned by Brno, České Budějovice and Jihlava. Last year Ostrava joined them and this year also Prague, which for a long time dominated gambling in the Czech Republic.
Chomutov has so far been one of the medium-sized cities where citizens have decided to ban tech games altogether. For example, Frýdek-Místek, Havířov, Kolín and, since last year, Děčín keep the same strict meter.
At the end of the ammunition year, some form of restrictions applied to the territory of 706 municipalities, exactly 21 more than the year before. Of these, 439 municipalities have banned technical games.
Casino next to the residential area
However, the powers of each city to decide on gambling end with the cadastral boundary. Unfortunately for the critics of gambling, the outskirts of the 50,000-strong village of Chomut is the village of Otvice with 679 inhabitants, which operates a casino on its territory called a casino.
Mayor Marek Hrabáč (JA) therefore has a clear opinion on the issue along with other coalition representatives. According to them, local citizens gamble, but the city does not make a profit.
After all, a citizen of Chomutov really has the chance in Chomutov district, when he goes to Baumax, to Kaufland, to play in a casino. In the residential area of Písečná, it goes through a passage and the passage ends right at the casino, ”Hrabáč recalled at the meeting of the city council.
In the end, the council approved the return of gambling to Chomutov itself with a ratio of 19 votes YES, the New North and the KSČM, 12 representatives of the opposition were against.