Austria mulling plans to introduce wide-ranging reforms to overhaul gambling market
The government of Austria has plans to introduce a series of wide-ranging reforms to overhaul the nation’s gambling market that could involve the setting up of a new all-inclusive gambling regulatory authority, Finance Minister Gernot Blumel said.
Mr. Blumel’s revelation came after a politician from the center-right Austrian People’s Party called on the government make and introduce new gambling rules to ‘untangle’ the potential by taking enforcement and licensing duties out of the hands of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The 39-year-old finance minister explained that the reforms would be designed to give priority to protection of players and require the new regulatory authority to introduce a national self-exclusion scheme for land-based as well as online gambling services. He stressed that the envisioned regulatory body could also be asked to speed up enforcement activities against illegal operators in addition to creating a blacklist of unlicensed online gambling domains and compelling local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to blacklisted sites.
The minister also stated that the coming reforms could furthermore see the country follow neighboring-country Belgium’s implementation of a complete ban on ‘loot boxes,’ which has been described by many as dangerous to younger players because they often lead players into problem gambling. The minister also declared that the government hopes to eliminate all federal video lottery terminals (VLTs) licenses to pave way for state-based certifications while also scrapping a plan to approve three new land-based casinos.
Some reports suggested that Mr. Blumel and his colleagues want Austria to replicate the Germany’s regulatory model by introducing monthly iGaming deposit limits and mandatory stake & time constraints in consultation with a team of gambling addiction experts. In addition, the Austrian government would make efforts to bring in a new slate of tax regulations to ensure operators adequately fund state-backed problem gambling programs.
Moreover, the government has intention to introduce a raft of fresh advertising controls that would treat gambling similar to tobacco. New anti-corruption safeguards would be launched to ban gambling companies from contributing to political parties and their representatives in any way.
It is interesting to note here that the proposed overhaul is considered as Mr. Blumel and numerous of his colleagues are embroiled in a scandal involving the alleged illegal funding of their election campaigns by European gaming machines firm Novomatic AG.