Austria to revamp Gambling Industry

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Austria’s Finance Minister Gernot Blümel recently announced a widespread revamp of the nation’s gambling regulations. According to the overhaul, the government plans to set up player protection protocols while introducing transparency in the system along with a supervisory body.

As per recent reports, the center-right Austrian People’s Party politician called for the country’s rules to be simplified last year. Blümel asked for licensing and enforcement duties to be taken away from the Federal Ministry of Finance. The call for a restructure is being made even as Blümel and a few of his colleagues are entangled in a scandal involving alleged illicit campaign funding by Novomatic AG, a renowned European gambling company.

The Austrian Treasury is currently in-charge of licensing and enforcing the gambling regulations. Blümel wants a dedicated body to take charge of these duties. The focus will be on player protection and they plan to achieve their goals by introducing a slew of new mandates on the legal gambling industry. Blümel explained:

“Protecting player rights is particularly important as gambling is a susceptible area and bears considerable risks,” 

“More often than not, players are affected by addiction, which leads to wide-spread psychological, financial, and existential complications”.

The Need for a Separate Entity

The dedicated regulatory body will be responsible for establishing a national self-exclusion system covering all gambling activities. It will also step-up the action against unlicensed operators and can ask internet service providers to block access to dubious or unscrupulous websites. A list of unlicensed operators will be formed as part of the process.

Blümel went on to state that new regulations will be set up for loot boxes, which could have a massive side-effect on younger gamblers, forcing them into traditional forms of gambling. The minister hinted at adopting a similar regulatory model as Germany, like introducing monthly deposit limits, limiting stakes, and playtime for online slots. The limits will be announced after consulting the experts.

The authorities also plan to increase taxes on the industry to ensure the operators contribute to the prevention and treatment of problem behavior. Strict laws governing advertisements will also be introduced as part of the prevention process. The gambling industry will soon witness a similar curb similar to the tobacco industry.

What’s Next for the Austrian Gambling Industry?

Apart from the regulatory overhaul, Blümel announced new anti-corruption protocols in the wake of the massive political scandal involving Casinos Austria, Novomatic, and a few high-ranking politicians. Discussions are already underway in the Austrian parliament over a ban on donations, gifts, or advertisements to politicians or parties from gambling operators, tobacco manufacturers, or the arms industry.

The authorities are also planning to abolish the federal license for video lottery terminals. The providers will instead have to acquire a license from the respective state authorities under whose jurisdiction they want to operate. The new regulations will also scrap the existing licensing requirements in favor of a uniform system.

Category:   Gambling industry