Czech Republic lottery has a long tradition that can be traced back to the late 1940s. Initially, the public lottery in Czech Republic was run by Staska, a betting company founded in 1948. Staska offered gamblers a chance to win by wagering on sports events.
The state also held fundraising lotteries those days, e.g., the Czechoslovak Class Lottery. However, all forms of gambling were declared illegal after reforming the currency in 1953. Three years later, the Communist Government decided to set up some regulations to combat illegal gambling that was still happening. The government-commissioned Saszka Entertainment AG to run the national lottery on September 15, 1956.
In 1957, Saszka introduced the Sportka Lottery that is still played to date. It was named Sportka because each of the 49 balls involved had a name corresponding to a particular sport. For instance, 19 was ice hockey, and 14 was soccer.
Its revenue was used to organize sporting events like the Spartakiad mass gymnastics and the Olympics; and building of stadiums. A single entry in the Sportka lottery cost 3 CSK, and the highest winning was 40,000 CSK.
In the early 60s, the prize pool was briefly reduced to CSK 15,000, but there was a backlash as ticket sales diminished to the point of affecting the budget for the sports industry. By 1967, the draws were broadcast on live TV. Jackpot prize increased steadily up to 200,000 CSK in the mid-80s and 500,000 CSK in 1990. Thirty years down the line, Czechs could play the games at an online lottery site.
Lottery nowadays in Czech Republic
During the Velvet Revolution, Sazka was named Sazka ltd., an umbrella company for nine sports organizations, including the Czech Olympic Committee and Czech Union of Sport. In 1995, Lawyer Aleš Hušák assumed top leadership at Sazka, and the company recorded a revenue of €450 million, making it the most valuable brand in Europe.
Towards the end of 2010, Sazka ltd could not cover the payments for Sazka Arena. With a debt of nearly CZK 15 billion, the company filed for bankruptcy in May 2011. It was later acquired by two billionaires who revived it into a profitable lottery. By 2016, the company recorded the second biggest win of CZK 201 million.
The latest trends show that the number of Czechs playing the lottery online increases by 10% every year. A decree that was implemented in January 2017 made it easier for bettors to explore online lottery. Previously, only land-based lottery booths were licensed. Players can now buy Czech Republic lotto tickets from a government site.