The Slovakian government has said that it is making plans to introduce a regulated online gambling market in the country sometime next year. The planned relaxation of online gambling restrictions has been welcomed by Slovakia’s gaming sector. According to reports, the country has already submitted draft legislation to the European Commission, which would replace Slovakia’s existing gambling legislation that was introduced over 13 years ago. The government will open up the gambling market to private operators from March next year. The European Commission will now examine the new draft to determine whether or not it is lawful and stands up to the EU’s criteria. The Slovakian government has mirrored its new legislation on other bills in neighboring European countries that have successfully introduced and implemented them (such as Denmark, Sweden and Romania), and there seems to be no reason why the Commission will not give Slovakia the green light. The EC is set to present the results of its examination in three months. In 2016, Slovakia passed a bill that instantly blacklisted 200 gambling domains, and some of the biggest names in the industry such as Bet365 and William Hill found themselves officially out of the industry when the bill came into effect in July last year. The authorities deemed these domains ‘untrustworthy’ to offer local players with their gambling services as they were operating without a license. While introducing the blacklist, Slovakia also preserved the monopoly on online casino and poker games for the state-owned TIPOS, the national lottery operator. Comments on the government’s new draft legislation were heard by the head of the Association of the Betting Companies of the Slovak Republic, Peter Papanek who spoke about “clear rules for everybody”. “Anyone who wants to offer online casino games will be able to do so if they meet the prescribed conditions,” he said. “Experience from abroad shows that, if the state wants to intervene against tax evasion and illegal gambling, it must go through the liberalization of the market, and the setting of fair conditions, inter alia, to motivate operators to operate legally.” Papanek said that illegal companies thus lose the incentive to circumvent the rules, and the state, in addition to income, also gains the certainty of consumer protection. “The countries that have been chosen liberalization have rapidly reduced the share of the black market,” he said. The Slovak government seeks to “relax restrictions on access to the internet gambling market”, and it will start with offering licenses to companies that are based in Slovakia or other European Union states. The government also plans to set up a new Regulatory Office for Gambling which will cover all gambling related activities such as licensing, sanctions and fees. A tax rate of 23% has been set for online gambling operators.