Betting in Prague

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Published: 02/04/2013

With a population of just over 1.2 million, Prague is not only the Czech Republic’s capital and largest city, but also the fourteenth-largest city in the European Union. For more than eleven centuries it has served as a political, cultural and economic centre of central Europe, at one time claimed as the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. More recently, its historic centre has been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, featuring such attractions as the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Lennon Wall and Petřín Hill.

Today, Prague’s economy accounts for a quarter of the Czech GDP. It is the base for such widespread industries as pharmaceuticals, printing, food processing, manufacture of transport equipment, computer technology and electrical engineering, as well as financial services, commercial services, trade, restaurants and accommodations, and public administration. Fully half of the nation’s tourism income is spent here, where some 73,000 beds in hotels and boarding houses, most built after 1990, welcome about 4.1 million visitors a year, making this the sixth-most-visited city in Europe.

Two major entertainment companies have a disproportionate share of Prague’s 33 gaming venues. Operating seven of them is Merkur Casinos, a division of the Gauselmann Group headquartered in Germany’s East Westphalia. It was founded by Paul Gauselmann in 1957 to refurbish used U.S. jukeboxes, and by 1976 the family-owned company had begun manufacturing its own slot machines. The Merkur Casino – Cerny Most is representative of these properties, open daily from 11am to 4am and offering a 10,760-square-foot gaming space filled with 150 gaming machines.

Competing with Merkur Casinos head to head are eight facilities located in Prague under the Casino Admiral brand and owned by the Novomatic Group of companies. Their flagship is the Casino Admiral Bohemia inside Prague Congress Centre, open 24 hours a day for 50 gaming machines and daily from 5pm to 6am for two dozen table games, including American Roulette, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Gold Strike, Let it Ride, Poker and Pontoon. Also on the premises is the restaurant Casiana along with a bar.

Many of Prague’s most lavish casinos are associated with major hotels. The Viva! Casino, for example, has a 7,000-square-foot gaming space within the 293-room Prague Marriott Hotel. It is open daily from 3pm to 5am, with 50 gaming machines 14 table games, two restaurants and a bar. Likewise the Casino Atrium Hilton, open daily from 2pm to 6am, has 3,228 square feet of gaming space for 20 gaming machines and 17 table games, plus a restaurant and a 788-room hotel.

The 575-room Corinthia Hotel Prague and Casino operates each day from 8pm to 4am, offering a restaurant, a bar and 968 square feet of gaming space containing six gaming machines and seven table games. Meanwhile, the 24/7 Henry Casino, with its six gaming machines and eleven table games, is located within the 89-room Hotel Jalta, where three restaurants can be found, and the Casino Ambassador is inside the 162-room Ambassador Hotel, also open 24/7 with a 2,390-square-foot gaming space, 20 gaming machines, six table games, two restaurants and a bar.

Gaming venues with foreign-sounding names abound in Prague, too, from the Casino Happy Day and the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club and Casino to the Vegas Casino Prague and its sister site, Banco Casino, open 24 hours a day with 53 gaming machines and 16 table and poker games. Even the conservatively named Casino Praha has its quirky side, as home to the Always Nuts Poker Club.

And speaking of Poker, the game has definitely caught on in Prague, where dedicated clubs like the Concord Card Casino and the Card Casino Prague have sprung up in recent years. In fact, the latter hosted the European Masters of Poker tournament in 2012.

One other attraction for gamblers in Prague is the Dostihove Zavodiste Praha - Velka Chuchle. Although it may not be immediately obvious from the name, it is a horseracing track with its own race book and dining facilities, including the Derby Club and the VIP Restaurant. The highlight of the racing season, the Czech Derby, is held there each June.

Published on: 02/04/2013

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