A leading gambling industry organisation is set to take the battle over new Austrian betting regulations to the European Commission (EC).
The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), which is a non-profit organisation representing many of the world’s leading gambling operators, has issued its verdict to the EC regarding the newly drafted Sports Betting Act produced by the state of Lower Austria.
Austria’s nine states have the freedom to set their own betting regulations with regard to those betting activities classed as ‘an activity of skill’, while bingo, casino and lottery gambling is controlled by the national government’s Ministry of Finance.
The regulations in Lower Austria had been based on the framework of the Law On Totalizators and Bookmakers since 1978, but these rules took no account of online betting or retail betting terminals, so the state executive has put forward draft legislation to update the regulatory system.
The draft proposes a two-year maximum licensing period for online operators, compared to ten years for retail incumbents, along with a prohibition on live betting and a stake limit of €350 maximum.
In its response, the IBIA claim that the proposals would make long term investment in the sector unattractive and that the differentiation between licence duration for online and retail sectors is both discriminatory and unjustified. They also state that the proposal for a maximum stake limit has been produced without any explanatory rationale.
The IBIA also rejected integrity and social harm concerns about live betting and urged the state executive to follow the model of the UK and Denmark, where regulators work with operators.
In taking its objections to the European level, the IBIA will be hoping to establish clarity across the European sector on these regulatory issues, and the EC’s response could have a significant effect on the gambling regulatory frameworks in a number of European jurisdictions.