Betting in Slovakia

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Officially known as the Slovak Republic, the country commonly referred to as Slovakia is an Eastern European nation bordered by Austria, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. It is a parliamentary republic with a population of just over 5.4 million people. The national language is Slovak and the local currency is the Euro.

For many decades, Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia. That nation was formed in 1918 but fell under Soviet control during an invasion and occupation in 1968. The region finally emerged from behind the Iron Curtain during the so-called “Velvet Revolution” of 1989, and a peaceful transition from communism to democracy was accomplished. In 1993, the Czechs parted ways with the Slovaks and both formed their own Republics.

Horse racing has a long history in Slovakia, dating back to a Conditions Race organised by the original Racing Association in 1840. The first hippodrome was established in the current capital city of Bratislava in 1868 and breeding soon became a major industry throughout the country. Now, all racing in Slovakia is overseen by the Turf Direktorium Für Die Slowakei, which is a member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities based in France.

Today, thoroughbred races are conducted at the Zavodisko Bratislava Horsetrack. In 2010, its pari-mutuel revenues were €101,622, of which 65 percent was returned to bettors. Off-track wagering on local races is also permitted through licensed bookmakers, who in 2010 recorded some €40,692 in betting turnover.

Legal gambling in Slovakia extends to casinos. The public limited company Casinos Slovakia was founded right after the revolution, in 1990, and opened its first casino a year later. At latest count, there are now twenty licensed gambling halls within the country, with most of them located in and around Bratislava.

Typical of these is the Casino Café Reduta, featuring 3,229 square feet of gaming space, ten gaming machines and 14 table and poker games. Open from 1pm until 4am, it caters to both tourists and locals alike. The minimum age for gambling is 18 years old.

Other Slovakia cities with casino operations include Kezmarok, Kosice, Nitra, Piestany, Skalica, Trnava, Ziar and Zilina. Half a dozen of the nation’s casino facilities come under the Merkur brand, while three properties are owned by the Olympic Entertainment Group.

Poker has been gaining a following in Slovakia in recent years, especially Texas Hold’em. Slot machines are allowed in pubs and coffeehouses and can be found all across the country. Betting shops are also legal and numerous, accepting fixed odds wagers on all kinds of sports, both local and international.

Administered by a monopoly called TIPOS, the National Lottery of Slovakia has been in operation since 1993. It is headquartered in Bratislava, where proceeds go directly to the Ministry of Finance. Games include four different types on Instant Lottery, three kinds of Keno (including Lotto) and Tipos Bingo. Tickets can be purchased at hundreds of retail sales outlets and via mobile phone through a contract with T-Mobile as well as online at the TIPOS web site.

Indeed, TIPOS is one of the few licensees for Internet betting in Slovakia. No virtual casinos have been established and only one company, Tipsport, is currently offering a dot-SK sportsbook. There are, however, no restrictions on Slovakian citizens gambling online with foreign casinos or bookmakers.

Currently, some 449 sports betting web sites accept play from Slovakia. Among them are seven Slovak-language sites, including Costa Rica-based SportBet 247as well as three headquartered in Malta (Expekt, Bet-at-Home and BetClic) and three in Gibraltar (Ladbrokes, Bwin and 1Bet2Bet).

Since the Euro is now the nation’s primary currency, it is widely accepted for direct deposits and withdrawals. Transactions from Slovakia may be easily made via credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards and a variety of eWallet providers, such as NETeller, Entropay and Moneybookers.