New independent gambling regulator for Austria

Austria: new finance minister wants an independent gambling regulator

Austria could soon have an independent gambling regulator, after the country’s new Finance Minister called for the launch of one.

This would form part of plans to “untangle” the Treasury’s multiple current functions. Finance Minister Gernot Blümel spoke about on Austrian television last weekend.

Current regulation

For now, the majority of Austrian gambling regulation is overseen by the Ministry of Finance (BMF). This includes casino and slots, both on and offline.

But when it comes to sports betting, things are a bit more complicated. Each jurisdiction has its own laws. In Vienna, for example, wagering on this is only permitted between 6 a.m. and midnight. Moreover, there are more minute restrictions when it comes to what can be bet on.

In Lower Austria, which surrounds Vienna, there no restrictions on sports betting. This is the same for Burgenland, which is in the east of the country.

Issues to address 

Blümel’s desires to form a independent regulatory body were announced as he was talking about Casinos Austria. This is the country’s gambling monopoly, which in recent months has been hit by scandal recently.

It was claimed that the appointment of Chief Financial Officer, Peter Sildo, was related to the awarding of licences in Vienna. Sildo is a Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) District Councillor in the Austrian capital. Moreover, he has shares in Novomatic – which holds a 17.19% stake in Casinos Austria and had hoped to secure a Viennese licence.

Both he and Novomatic, however, have since argued that no wrong was done.

Following these allegations, the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (ÖVWG) expressed its wishes for the monopoly to end. It said that an urgent “rethink” of the existing monopoly framework was needed.

When talking about Casinos Austria, Blümel had the following to say.

“Casinos Austria is a traditional company that provides over 3,000 jobs. It is important to me that [things settle down] and that jobs, its location and tax revenue remain secure.

“ÖBAG [referring to Österreichische Beteiligungs, the Austrian state’s public investment body] will therefore examine how best to ensure such an ‘Austria package’.”

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