Jablonec nad Nisou can become the largest city in the Czech Republic, where the citizens themselves will get the gambling regulation. Together with the presidential elections on January 12 and 13, there is a referendum on banning its toughest form – gaming machines. With the formulation of the referendum questions, the Transparency International referendum organizers helped.
The issue of gambling is a thorny issue in municipalities throughout the Czech Republic. At the same time, it has an enormous risk of non-transparent corrupt practices and money laundering. We regard it as a fair and democratic way through a local referendum, so we decided to give our organizers a hand in Jablonec. I wish the inhabitants of Jablonec to express their will in sufficient numbers and the result of the referendum could be valid and binding.
The petition for the referendum was signed by more than 3800 citizens. For a referendum to be valid, at least 35% of eligible persons must attend. Failing sufficient participation of voters is the most frequent reason for the failure of the referendum, so its Jablonic initiators are trying to support a large-scale information campaign.
“Sufficient participation in the referendum is key, so we want to make it available to all citizens. We were very pleased that the campaign decided to financially support dozens of Jablonec citizens via the Internet collection, Jablonec firms and entrepreneurs and, last but not least, the Foundation Fund against Corruption through the Via Foundation’s fast grant. It is obvious that many people are burning gambling issues in Jablonec. Their support is a huge driving force for us, “summarizes preparations for the referendum, Jablonec chairman without gambling Jakub Strnad.
Announcement of the referendum
The announcement of the referendum preceded the several-year complicated journey. In Jablonec nad Nisou, the ban on casinos and casinos has already been paid. Specifically, in January 2015, the absolute prohibition on which the city was being prepared for 3 years began to apply. However, before the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic was able to withdraw licenses from local operators for the operation of gaming machines, there was an “unexpected” turnaround.
Already in the middle of 2015, Mayor Petr Beitl, the petitioner of the original promulgation decree, submitted a motion for its abolition. Instead, he enforced a new decree authorizing three casinos to operate in the city. The main protagonist of breaking the ban was the Mayor of Jablonec and the former chairman of the FAČR, Miroslav Pelta.
It did not take long and the number of allowed casinos increased to the current 10, with more than 350 slot machines. This is more than before the ban.
“We have been watching the situation in Jablonec for a long time, we think the opinions of the city representatives are alarming. This is a demonstration of how pressure gambling can put pressure on its own interests. It is also ridiculous that Jablonec’s leadership is the most effective form of regulation for their open media support. In Jablonec, 10 casinos are currently run, mostly in the city center. That’s why I’m definitely not introducing efficient gambling, “says Martin Svoboda, chairman of the Citizens Against Hazard, who works together to prepare the referendum.
“For the sake of mind, it’s more than the number of casinos in Vienna, Stokholm and Madrid combined. If the ban on slot machines in Northern Bohemia were to be enforced by citizens themselves, it would be a huge victory and an important signal sent to gambling operators and local politicians advocating pro-war policy. Jablonec could become an inspiration for other big cities in the Czech Republic, “adds Svoboda.
Chances of success
So what are the chances of a referendum? An important step was his association with the presidential election, which he succeeded in winning thanks to the hard work of the opposition representative Jakub Macka:
“It is now up to the citizens whether they will come to express their will in a sufficient number. The controversy of the subject is tantamount to the intensity with which the Mayor and the Member of the Parliament Petr Beitl started the open and manipulative criticism of the referendum. It has definitely been shown on whose side it is standing. He reinstated the casino clearance. “
“Without his enormous effort, there would be no casinos or vending machines, and no referendum would have taken place. Now it is his last desperate attempt to keep automata in Jablonec at any price. I firmly believe that citizens will issue an account in the referendum, “adds Macek.
“The issue of gambling is a thorny issue in municipalities throughout the Czech Republic. At the same time, it has an enormous risk of non-transparent corrupt practices and money laundering. We regard it as a fair and democratic way through a local referendum, so we decided to give our organizers a hand in Jablonec. I wish the inhabitants of Jablonec to express their will in sufficient numbers and the result of the referendum could be valid and binding, “concluded Sylvie Kloboučková, lawyer at Transparency International.