Slovenia’s National Council has voted to suspend an online gaming bill that would have opened up the market for other companies within the European Economic Community.
The vote finished 18-12 in favour of a veto to suspend the bill, which was first proposed back in January 2017 by Branko Zorman, a Slovenian MP. Zorman supports the claim that 85 percent of the current sports betting revenue generated in Slovenia is going to companies outside of the country.
The veto was led by National Council representative of social care Boris Šuštarši?.
What does this mean for Slovenia moving forward?
Currently, the sports betting market in Slovenia is a monopoly shared by Športna Loterija, the only company legally allowed to run sports betting services in the country, and Loterija Slovenije, Slovenia’s national lottery operator.
The latest vote by the National Council will see this monopoly continue for the foreseeable future. However, this vote contradicts an earlier one by the National Assembly, which had voted 35-26 in favour of opening up the country’s online gaming market to outside companies.
Now that the bill has failed to gain the National Council’s approval, the Assembly will have to vote again on a different bill — albeit a slightly amended version of this latest one. The bill will need a two-thirds majority in order to be passed.
Will this bill benefit Slovenia?
There are several reasons why opening the market could benefit Slovenia. Firstly, the market could be regulated better with other countries involved.
Secondly, when Zorman first proposed the bill, he argued that the country could see large amounts of revenue coming its way, as a result of allowing outside sports betting companies to operate in the country.
Some €500,000 in annual licensing fees and a share of all revenues would be generated by the introduction of regulations. As it stands, the vast majority of online gambling is done on unregulated sites in a bid to avoid using Športna Loterija.
What are the downsides of the bill?
The National Council is believed to be concerned that opening the online gambling market will have a negative impact on the funding of sports associations, charities, and organizations for the disabled.
Jackpot funds will also increase. This could bring lower concession fees paid to the government. Moreover, anti-liberalisation councillors claim this bill could lead to the collapse of the field and therefore should be vetoed.
A statement by opponents of the bill reads:
“The unavoidable consequence of opening the betting market is to raise funds for winnings, which means less concessionary duties. The adopted law implies an excessive risk of collapsing the system of long-term and stable financing of disability, humanitarian and sports organisations.”