Nestled in the heart of Europe, Slovakia has been independent in its own right since 1993 (was formally part Czechoslovakia, controlled by the Soviet Union). Since gaining independence, the country has flourished, experiencing strong economic and an improvement in the standard of living. One of the drivers for this growth has been the gambling industry in the country, with over 20 popular casinos offering a plethora of table games, slots and poker dotted around the country. With land based gambling so popular in Slovakia, how does the online market look, particularly when it comes to sports betting? We take a look at the laws and regulations in place in Slovakia, assessing the options for Slovakian bettors who want to have a flutter online.
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The ability for Slovak citizens to gamble is a fairly recent development. Under Soviet rule in what was Czechoslovakia, all forms of gambling were outlawed. As a new country in its own right, Slovakia had the ability to introduce new laws, regulations and infrastructure.
First up was the introduction of the National Lottery of Slovakia (administered by TIPOS). It was determined that the proceeds of the lottery would go to the Ministry of Finance and the lotto has become part of the Slovakian culture. There are 4 different types of lottery and Slovak citizens can buy their tickets at thousands of sales outlets around the country.
Land gambling is very much legal in Slovakia, with slot machines being allowed in bars across the country. Local betting shops are rife and accept fixed odds bets on a number of different sporting events. The annual gambling revenue generated in the Slovak Republic is around €900 million, quite a large per person spend considering there are only 5.5 million people in the country. 
In theory, the online market is not quite so open (however, in reality it is). Slovakia grants licensed for gambling operations under the Gambling Act which was issued back in 2005 (online gambling is regulated by sections 9 and 29). The government allow online gambling, but in theory only through companies who are fully licensed by the Ministry of Finance. Licensees are meant to be registered in Slovakia and their servers must be based in the country. In 2011, the government looked at implementing a ban on foreign betting operators, but they quickly withdrew it after meeting stern opposition from the European Union . The lottery provider TIPOS, which had also previously been very successful with its online betting operation was given credit protection by the government against creditors in 2011, after the operator had been steadily losing money in the face of stern international competition.
Firms That Operate in Slovakia
Virtually all of the top bookmakers allow Slovak citizens to sign up for an account with them. Our most recommended betting sites are listed above.
There are a number of firms (including Ladbrokes and William Hill) who offer their website in Slovak. As the national currency is the Euro, Slovak customers have no problems with deposits.
There are no real restrictions in terms of deposit options when it comes what payment methods are available to Slovak bettors. Some of the deposit methods include:
Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Slovakia. The Slovak national team was created after the break-up of Czechoslovakia, and the new formation enabled many Slovak players who had been previously frozen out when the two countries were combined. After initially having to compete against countries with very little in the way of ice hockey tradition, the Slovak team made their mark on the international scene by winning the 2002 World Championships in Sweden. Many of the current national team play in the NHL and the sport is only likely to go from strength to strength in the forthcoming years.
As with virtually all of Europe, football is popular in Slovakia. The national team have made great strides in recent years (now ranked 27th in the world) and have recently qualified for the 2016 European Championships. Most of the national squad ply their trade around Europe and their most famous player is Martin Skrtel, of Liverpool FC. The top domestic league is the Fortuna Liga, a competition contested by 12 teams. Since its inception, Slovan Bratislava have been the most successful team, with 8 league titles to their name. There are a number of divisions below the top level, and the Slovak citizens are really passionate about their football,
On top of football and ice hockey, horse racing is one of the most popular sporting events in Slovakia. It has a long history in the country, with the first race being organised all the way back in 1840. Following on, the first racecourse was built in Bratislava in 1868, and with racing gaining popularity, the breeding industry took off. Racing is now held at the Zavodisko horse track in Bratislava. On top of an on course pari-mutuel service, punters can also bet off-course at licensed bookmakers.
Handball, softball and tennis are three other sports that are both played and watched regularly in Slovakia.
What Does the Future Hold for Betting Online in Slovakia?
Although a few years ago, there were some attempts by the Slovakian authorities to regulate and restrict online gambling in the country, those efforts were short lived and unsuccessful. Slovakian citizens have free access to all of the major bookmakers around the world, and that looks to continue for the foreseeable future.