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This week it’s all about the Czech Republic and my latest interviewee is a highly respected expert who shares his expertise at gaming events. Jan Řehola is a frequent speaker at our events and always bring quality information about the market’s updates. You can meet Jan in person by attending the second edition of Prague Gaming Summit which will be held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague. You can find more details here.
With this occasion, I would also like to thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily get back to you!
Hello Jan, thank you accepting this interview, please tell us little bit about yourself, with now over 7 years of experience in the gaming industry, how did you continuously venture to the industry, I mean what was the main reason and what are your key activities, now within the niche?
Jan: As a gambling lawyer I found myself the most beneficial in helping operators, suppliers, testing labs and all other stakeholders involved in gambling industry to be still fully updated and fully complaint with constantly changing regulation. As gambling is highly controversial topic often in spotlight of politicians – regulation is changing very quickly so legal, and especially compliance, plays still more and more important role. What I really like the most on my work is helping my clients to develop and successfully introduce new products on market. By being part of client’s development team, I have priceless opportunity to learn new competences what helps me go every day to my office with joy and enthusiasm.
Working for 4 years for the Ministry of Finance – Czech Gambling regulator, firstly as a Head of the Legal Unit and later as a Director of Gambling Department, what do you consider you could share with us and with the readers as updates on the Czech Gaming Market?
Jan: Czech gambling market is currently undergoing the biggest restructuring from the velvet revolution in 1989. We have new Gambling Act fully in force from 2017. This Gambling Act for the first time in history introduces specific regulation for online gambling and opens whole Czech gambling market for companies established anywhere within EEA. With gambling tax based on GGR and reasonable license conditions, because new regulatory framework on paper looks very good. Unfortunately, in fact application of new Gambling Act caused some difficulties. Considering some recently issued secondary regulation (e.g. guidelines on Bonuses) and transposition of 4th AML Directive unfortunately it can be concluded that to some extent those things spoil idea of regulated, modern and highly competitive market. Currently it is very hard especially for foreign operators to meet specific requirements of Czech regulator and therefore we still have just one foreign operator with licence based on new Gambling Act (Pokerstars holds licence for sport betting, poker and so called “live game”). With new government in place some changes are expected to happen in near future. It can be presumed that some requirements which form obstacles could be potentially removed. Ministry is still working on pack of secondary regulations dealing with technical standards and also preparing big public tender for control monitoring system. Potential stakeholders on Czech market should therefore follow and supervise this preparatory works with due diligence.
Going further, You were responsible for all gambling policy issues, including drafting of new legislation, issuing of gambling licences and cooperation with other European regulators as a member of European Commission Expert Group on Online Gambling, what can you tell us about this year’s updates(in 2018), can we expect major changes on the Czech Gambling Market as we know were some tensions between governments, regulators and the gambling industry.
Jan: As mentioning before we can presume that with new, more business-oriented government in place, regulator can to some extent be more reasonable in licensing procedure. Those operators, suppliers and testing labs having experiences with licensing process in the Czech Republic can provide a testimony that hitherto regulator was more focus on formal requirements than on real substance of licenced product. Some requirements are Czech specific and therefore hardly understandable for foreign licence seekers. This could be changed. As regulator is expected to be more open, I see big room for suppliers and testing labs delivering products in many regulated market to open dialogue with regulator and help him to rebuilt licence process to be more substance oriented.
Due to your background and well versed in all aspects of gambling operations, please tell us more about how PS Legal works, as PS Legal has a rich experience in gambling field and provide professional and high quality legal and compliance consultancy to key players on Czech gambling market.
Jan: I am really enjoying our teamwork at PS Legal. This law firm has long history but when me and my colleagues joined its teams it becomes leading company in gambling field in the Czech Republic. We are focusing not only on gambling but trying to offer expertise in all new emerging industries and technologies where clients can suffer in finding professional legal help with knowledge of this specific industry. Currently we are for instance building division focusing on legal help in field of cryptocurrency or rather blockchain technology in general. We strongly believe that this rapidly developing market can play huge role in upcoming years. What I really like the most is that we are young but highly educated bunch of friends having fun in helping our clients to meet regulatory requirements in versatile areas. By doing this we are still learning and therefore our work is far from being routine.
What are your main responsibilities at PS Legal, as it is a Prague based law firm specialized in providing legal services to all sectors of the gaming industry?
Jan: In PS Legal I am heading its gambling department. This takes currently more than 70 % of my work capacity. As mentioned before we are currently building also department dealing with cryptocurrency and data protections issues. For this I am helping with head hunting process as our team is growing at a fast pace. This type of work I found very fulfilling. I am trying to use experience I got from Ministry of Finance where I was responsible for team of 35 people. I really like see how young people grow in front of your eyes as you gave them room and responsibility.
Do you have a personal opinion regarding the Gambling Market focusing on Czech Republic and the Czech Gambling-related Market? What are the PS Legal company’s future plans in the gaming sector and what are your personal next steps and projects regarding your professional life and achieving your personal goals?
Jan:I am sure that Czech market would become more competitive in year 2018. With many applicants seeking to get licence and with licensees seeking to get new product on market we can see rapidly evolving market. Currently we see huge restructuring and M&A in land-based market that undergoing huge changes and some M&A could be expected in online world too. I believe, PS legal would play still important role in this process. Whit our expertise and experience I also hope we can help to establish dialog among all stakeholders and regulator to work together on common goal – functioning regulated market where player is protected, and operators can offer them attractive product.
To meet Jan in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.
Jan Řehola has over 7 years of experiences in gambling field, both from the public and private sector. He is a master of Law from the Charles University in Prague.
Jan has been working for 4 years for the Ministry of Finance – Czech Gambling regulator, firstly as a Head of the Legal Unit and later as a Director of Gambling Department. In his work for the Czech Gambling regulator Jan was responsible for all gambling policy issues, including drafting of new legislation, issuing of gambling licences and cooperation with other European regulators as a member of European Commission Expert Group on Online Gambling.
Due to his background, he is well versed in all aspects of gambling operations.
PS Legal is Prague based law firm specialized in providing legal services to all sectors of the gaming industry. PS Legal has rich experience in gambling field and provide professional and high quality legal and compliance consultancy to key players on Czech gambling market.
Source: European Gaming News