STA, March 20, 2018 – The National Assembly backed a coalition MP-sponsored bill seeking to liberalise the sports betting market in by 35 votes against 26 in a ballot crossing block and party lines.
The bill, submitted by Branko Zorman, an MP for the senior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), seeks to end the monopoly of the sports betting company Športna Loterija.
The current gaming act restricts conventional games of chance, including bets, to two providers - the national lottery operator Loterija Slovenije and Športna Loterija for sports betting.
Zorman-sponsored amendments open the market to foreign providers, which Zorman says are already present in the Slovenian market through online services, but do not have a concession or pay taxes here.
The bill requires providers to obtain a licence and pay licence fees, which Zorman said would generate more funds for sports and for disability and humanitarian organisations.
In the debate today, a majority of MPs for the outgoing coalition's Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Social Democrats (SD) announced a vote against, while SMC MPs voted according to individual preferences.
The opposition Left announced a vote against and the Democrats (SDS) and the independents announced they would vote in favour.
Opposition to the bill had already been voiced before by the government, Športna Loterija and the National Council, the upper chamber of parliament.
Gorazd Renčelj, a state secretary at the Finance Ministry, said the bill was flawed in that it failed to provide comprehensive solutions which were required in the field, also under EU law.
The position was echoed by DeSUS, which also suggested the amendments would lead to "ill-thought-through and haphazard privatisation", and the SD said the bill was not tackling key social dilemmas.
"Ending monopoly is nothing but privatisation of a new segment of our society," commented Matej T. Vatovec from the Left.
By contrast, the SDS commended Zorman for doing the job the government and the coalition should have. "We believe the proposed amendments mean positive budget receipts and more money for sports clubs," Marko Pogačnik said.
Independent MP Bojan Dobovšek backed the amendments on the grounds that they would bring more competition, curb the illegal market and generate more budget money.