Illustrative photo – Briefing of presidential candidate Andrej Babiš in Prague, January 24, 2023.
Prague – Unsuccessful presidential candidate and chairman of the ANO movement Andrej Babiš did not violate the law on regulation of advertising by calling on Twitter to bet on the presidential election with the promise of profit. The Regional Office of the Central Bohemian Region, which dealt with the case on the basis of an anonymous tip, came to this conclusion, David Šíma, spokesman for the governor's office, told ČTK. Babiš has a permanent residence in Průhonice near Prague. Therefore, according to the spokesperson of the region, it was the Central Bohemian Authority that was competent to exercise supervision according to the Act on the Regulation of Advertising.
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A day before the start of the second round of the head of state election, Babiš called on people to bet on him. “I was in Fortuna, the odds are 12 (for Babiš to win, editor's note). Bet 1,000 CZK and come and vote, you will win 12,000 CZK. Babiš always helps, it will be better with Babiš,” he wrote on Twitter. However, the head of ANO did not succeed in the elections, so bets on him failed. Criticism then appeared on social networks. In addition to the regional office, the police also received the complaints.
Control of compliance with the Act on the Regulation of Advertising is ensured by trade authorities. In this case, the matter was dealt with by the Legislative and Legal Department and the Regional Trade Office at the Central Bohemian Regional Office. According to Šíma, he came to the conclusion that the law on regulation of advertising was not violated. According to the spokesperson, no signs of advertising as defined in the relevant law were found in the message on social networks.
After Babiš's appeal, a wave of new registrations started at Fortuna. “An hour after the publication of his tweet, we registered a real rush of new registrations. In the history of Fortuna, we hardly remember such a large number of new client registrations within a few days,” said Michal Hanák from Fortuna earlier. According to him, most of the newly registered people bet on Babiš. “They were sums from five hundred crowns to tens of thousands,” he added to CNN Prima News. Given that the chairman of the ANO movement did not win the presidential election and Miloš Zeman's successor will be Petr Pavel, a former high representative of the Czech army and NATO, people lost money.
That Babiš could have violated the law on advertising regulation by calling for betting on elections , the Ministry of Finance stated at the end of January. “The Ministry of Finance has previously stated that purely from the point of view of the Gambling Act, of which we are the gestor, we generally do not see in the given statement a violation of the law that could be sanctioned. However, the question is whether it could have been an advertisement for a gambling game in violation of by the Act on the Regulation of Advertising,” said ministry spokesman Tomáš Weiss. Czech Television previously stated that the ministry would investigate possible violations of the law. According to her, the police received several suggestions for the post on the social network.
Babiš was criticized for the post by, among others, the deputy prime minister and the chairman of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš. He called on the ex-premier to apologize to the people. Moravian-Silesian governor Ivo Vondrák, who did not support Babiš in the elections, apologized for Babiš's challenge to the bet.