Friday, 13 December 2019
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Fancy an evening out at the cinema? Cinestar is celebrating their 16th anniversary next week and have announced that they will be selling tickets for only 16 Kunas to mark the event.

On Wednesday the 27th of November, on the 16th birthday of the largest cinema chain in Croatia, cinema-goers can catch the latest Hollywood hit for only 16 Kunas, a substantial saving on the normal price of a ticket.

Of course Wednesday will be a busy day so if you want to catch Frozen II, Midway, Ford vs Ferrari or one of the other hits then you might want to reserve your place in advance. The 16 Kuna special offer is valid for all movies, including 3D and VIP seats, but not for 4DX movies.

Check out the Cinestar site for more details.

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Clearly Croatia is a popular holiday destination for South Korean tourists. Ever since the beauties of Croatia were highlighted on two popular South Korean TV shows a few years ago the country has seen an ever growing number of tourists.

And now comes news that the airline, Korean Air, will upgrade and expand their flights connections between Seoul and Zagreb for 2020. Korean Air has announced that in 2020 they will operate the link with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner which holds up to 269 seats, with 24 business-class seats and 245 economy seats.

This move is an upgrade since Korean Air have until now operated the connection with the 218-seat Airbus A330-200. Korean Air will fly three times a week between Seoul and the Croatian capital in the summer of 2020 with seasonal flights starting on the 31st of march next year.

 

Get ready for another two days of rain and storms as the experts as weather forecasters predict another period of unsettled weather in Dubrovnik. After a few days of sunshine and blue skies the rains are on their way back to Dubrovnik with forecasters stating that today and tomorrow will be extremely wet and windy with gale force southerly winds.

Just last week the whole Dubrovnik region was struck by incredible storms with raging seas and floods and it seems like today and tomorrow will see similar weather conditions.

Highs today will reach 14 degrees torrential rain and strong southerly winds forecast. And tomorrow will be a similar story with highs to reach no more than 16 degrees and rain and southerly winds again forecast.

Croatians spend an average of five hours a day on their smart phone, according to a Masterindex survey conducted by Improve for Mastercard.

The survey found that 82 percent of Croats are satisfied with the current level of digitization, while as many as 67 percent of residents use smartphones to pay their bills. In addition, we mostly use smartphones for online chat (84 percent), followed by email (82 percent), online shopping (81 percent), internet search (79 percent), social networks (74 percent), and online or mobile banking (64 percent).

Compared to last year's results, social networks are slightly less used and navigation, payment applications and video on demand more. Younger respondents use their smartphone above average, buy online more often, share photos, watch videos, listen to music, use payment apps, track sports, and get informed about travel and traffic.

Older respondents, on the other hand, make greater use of navigation, e-readers, Internet and mobile banking, e-mail, and Internet search, and more often view the weather.

Mobile phones are mostly used by young people between the ages of 18 and 29, with an average of five and a half hours a day, but still less used by older people.

 

Dubrovnik artist Deša Vlahutin will present her work at the prestigious gallery of one of the largest auction houses in London. Bonhams Auction House will exhibit a series of sculptures called "Fibonacci Fragments" on the 25th of November. The exhibition not only has a visual character, but is a set of reflections on the impact of the Fibonacci series on art and life.

Visitors will have the opportunity to hear an interactive lecture by Ph.D. Jan Rosenzweig on the life of a famous mathematician and the relationship between mathematics, art and nature. The exhibition will also feature a musical piece composed of compositions inspired by the Fibonacci series.

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Deša's fascination with Fibonacci has resulted in a collection of sculptures which, as their origins, have figures of the Fibonacci sequence that, through the relationship of sculptural surfaces, evolve into a series that combines mathematical precision and minimalist sculpture. Seven white sculptures are devoid of detail, and they draw their sculpturalism precisely from the mathematical relation of one surface to the others, forming a rounded whole.

 

Croatia is without doubt one of the safest countries in Europe and latest figures from the statistical wing of the EU, Eurostat, show that car theft in Croatia is the third lowest of all EU members.

Police across the European Union recorded on average 697,000 car thefts yearly over the period 2015 to 2017, a 29 percent reduction compared to the period 2008 to 2010. Between 2008 and 2017, there were downward trends in most EU Member States.

On average over 2015 to 2017, the figures were highest in Luxembourg (328 police-recorded car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants), followed by Greece (269), Italy (257), Sweden (256), France (247) and Czechia (238). The lowest figures in the EU were observed in Slovakia and Estonia (both 31), Croatia (20), Romania (15) and Denmark (4).

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As a tribute to the Croatian soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in Vukovar during the siege in the Homeland War the streets of Dubrovnik, and indeed most Croatian cities were illuminated with candles tonight.

And in Dubrovnik, as it is every year, this was done on Vukovarska Street, where a large series of candles were lit to honour the victims of Vukovar.

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Every year around 860,000 British nationals head to Croatia and take advantage of beautiful weather, stunning views over the Adriatic and the very finest local Croatian cuisine.

Another draw for tourists is Croatia’s growing gambling scene, which has gone from strength to strength in the past 5 years. For casino loving Brits, the biggest question is ‘how do gambling laws in Croatia differ to those in the UK?’

Croatian gambling laws

Gambling laws in Croatia have changed a lot in recent years. Until 1991, legislation meant that only those who held a government issued license were allowed to operate, giving the government a monopoly on gambling.

The introduction of the Games of Chance Act in January 2009, allowed for casinos to be built and a wide range of sports and games to be wagered on. However, 20% VAT was also introduced on profits from gambling which made it hard for smaller land-based casino companies to continue trading.

In Croatia, it is legal for players above the age of 18 to gamble in one of the countries 20 registered land-based casinos, online or on state-run lotteries. Lotteries and bingo represent the biggest percentage of the country’s gambling revenues, and unlike in the UK, these games are licensed and operated by the government.

In terms of the law, that’s where the differences between the two countries start and ends. The reason that both countries share many of the same gambling laws is that (at the time of writing) both are member states of the European Union.

When Croatia joined the EU in 2013, it was forced to bring its gambling laws and regulations in line with the rest of the Union. One key change that was implemented was the introduction of €500,000 fees for gambling licences.

This meant that all companies offering their gambling services in Croatia had to pay the fee in order to meet government regulations and operate legally. This decision was not met with glee by the Croatian gambling authority and actually led to riots.

British gambling companies are also obliged to pay a fee to the gambling commission for their licences, although the costs are often double that charged in Croatia. The fees are for all types of operators – including online ones and online gambling is more profitable than ever with UK online casinos booming. If you wish to experience it firsthand for yourself, try out this operator which is considered to be a very popular UK online casino.

Legal differences

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Nuances in law do exist between the UK and Croatia in terms of gambling, but there is one clear area of difference that adversely affects tax revenues in Croatia.


In the United Kingdom, all gambling providers are required to base themselves either in Great Britain or one of the country’s crown dependencies. Most operators choose to base themselves in Gibraltar, Malta or the Isle of Man where corporate tax figures are lower than in mainland Britain.

Whilst the tax rate in these dependencies may be lower than if the companies were based in mainland Britain, the law does still ensure that British gambling revenues contribute in terms of tax to the British economy.

In Croatia, there is no such stipulation. Operators from all over the world are free to offer their services to Croatian nationals with no obligation to pay tax in the country. Whilst this may be good for tourists looking to place a bet with their favourite provider on holiday, it is bad news for the Croatian economy and even worse news for homegrown online casino operators.

This is because they are missing out on tax revenue which could be invested in public services such as transport, hospitals and schools.

Financial differences

Before exploring the difference in gambling revenues between the two countries it is important to note that the population of the UK stands at 66 million which is 62 million more than that of Croatia.

Furthermore, as listed on the trading economics, GDP per Capita in the UK is almost three times that of Croatia, which makes direct comparisons between the two somewhat difficult to quantify.

However, last year the total revenues of the gambling industry in the UK totalled 17.5 billion Euros, whereas the Croatian figure stood at 350 million Euros. Those figures may seem lightyears apart, but in reality, they are not.

On average, each Briton spends around 263 Euros a year on gambling, compared to 87.5 Euros by Croatians. If we were to account for Britain’s three times higher GDP per capita, then the relative gambling expenditures per citizen are indeed very similar.

Delving further into the statistics, it becomes clear that Croatians love gambling just as much as Britons, if not slightly more. Croatia’s most recent gambling revenues represented a 16-year high, whereas British revenues were down on the previous year.

Differences in land-based casinos

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Croupiers conduct and lead the table-based games in land-based casinos

As mentioned earlier in the article, there are slightly over 20 physical land-based casinos in Croatia. In the UK the figure is just above 100, which is about right for a country 5 times bigger than Croatia.

The only real difference between the two countries in terms of land-based casinos is that the UK is home to 1 ‘Super Casino’ of the size common to Las Vegas. Inside both casinos, in Croatia and the UK, there is no real difference in experience for the customer.

Could the Croatian gambling industry learn from the UK?

For years the British gambling industry has been heralded as the best in the world and used as an example for other counties to follow. Complete with a huge choice of games and engaging graphics, it’s no wonder online casinos are so popular. That no longer seems to be the case as many countries have already adopted the same approach to their own domestic gambling industries, including Croatia.

Pound for pound, gamblers in Croatia spend a similar amount to their British counterparts and evidence even points to higher growth in Croatia than in the UK.

Furthermore, legislation and regulations in both countries are incredibly similar, meaning that both operate with a high level of scrutiny towards unscrupulous and criminal elements within their respective gambling scenes.

Summary

An area that the Croatian government could learn from the British would be licences and taxation. In order to fully reap the benefits of a booming gambling economy, Croatia must adopt the British approach of requiring companies to base themselves in Croatia and pay domestic, rather than overseas taxes.

Other than that, it would be rather prudent of British gambling experts to study the scene in Croatia in order to discover what is making the industry so successful on this small slither of the Adriatic.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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