Finance Minister, Gernot Blumel, announces nationwide gambling regulatory framework overhaul
The Austrian finance minister, Gernot Blumel, has announced that a new authority will take over from the Austrian Treasury, who are responsible for licencing and enforcement of gambling regulations.
The new regulator will focus on player protections and new transparency obligations to control legal and illegal gambling.
Gernot Blumel explained:
“Player protection is of particular importance, as gambling is a very sensitive area for players, their families and for society, which also carries considerable risks.
Players are often affected by addiction and as a consequence confronted with financial, psychological and existential issues.”
One of the first main tasks for the new regulator will be to introduce a self-exclusion system which will cover both online and land-based verticals.
There will also be increased pressure to crackdown on unlicenced operators, through a blacklist for unlicenced domains. The regulator will be able to contact internet providers to block any access to these unlicenced sites.
Another notable mention was the possible regulation on loot boxes. However, Blumel is cautious about this due to the potential negative impact it could have on young gamers.
He believes that if this is taken away from them then there is the possibility of leading them to more traditional forms of gambling.
Furthermore, the regulatory overhaul aims to mirror Germany's regulatory model by introducing:
- Monthly deposit limits
- Limiting stakes
- Limiting playing time for slots
Another addition set to be implemented in this complete overhaul is safeguarding the players against corruption, even more so due the major political scandal back in 2019 involving Casinos Austria and high-ranking politicians.
Taxes are also set to be raised, making sure operators will assist in the fight against problem gambling while advertising controls will also become stricter, similar to the tobacco industry.
Moreover, discussions are well underway in parliament regarding transparency. To enhance the transparency of certain procedures, there is a ban on donations, ads and gifts from the gambling, tobacco and arms industries in the pipeline.
Due to this new call for transparency, federal licences for video lottery terminals (VLT) will be abolished, and providers will need to acquire a licence from the specific state where they operate.
The new regulatory overhaul rules are expected to be drawn up by end of April while the laws are expected to pass by Autumn this year.
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