Austrian online market grows in face of government restrictions

Austria
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Austria’s online gaming market has proved the fastest growing gambling sector in the country, gaining 11 percent from 2016, reaching E283m in 2017.

However, the Austrian government has stated its intention to continue pushing through legislation begun last year, which would restrict access to international operators who currently represent 65 percent of the market.

The Ministry of the Interior announced the decision in August 2017 to amend the Telecoms Act to block unauthorised operators, followed by a draft revision to the Gambling Act requiring all operators refund 30 years worth of revenue to Austrian customers.

The amendment, which protected the Win2Day domain of Casino Austria, in which the government holds a 30 percent stake, was later withdrawn due to difficulties in technical implementation.

Despite refusing to provide international operators with licenses, the government still requires companies surrender 40 percent of revenue accrued in the country as tax.

Though cited as such, a November ruling by CJEU advocate general Eleanor Sharpston observed the governmental process was “plainly inconsistent with an aim of achieving a high level of protection for consumers.”

With international sites accounting for 85 percent of the online market growth over 2017, the prohibitive stance of the Austrian authorities could prove damning for the sector as a whole.


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