The word has experienced an unparalleled boom in digitisation thanks to the restrictions brought into place by the pandemic. One of the notable impacts of this has been an increased sense of urgency by governments to ensure that their residents gamble online in a safe and secure manner.
Austria has always historically been fairly easy going with regards to online gambling, but this is all set to change according to an announcement by the Austrian finance minister, Gernot Blumel.
The New Broom Will Sweep Clean
At present all gambling regulation and controls falls under the purview of the Austrian Treasury, one of the pivotal aspects of the country’s revised regulation will be the establishment of an official supervisory authority.
The new gambling authority will have its work cut out for it as Blumel and his associates have a clear agenda for the future of online gambling and land-based gambling in Austria which includes the following key outputs:
- The implementation of a nationwide self-exclusion program will become central to the provision of licensed online and offline gambling in Austria.
- An active blacklist of all illegal online gambling sites targeting Austrian players.
- The Authority will then work with Internet Service Providers to block access to these blacklisted sites from IP’s originating within Austria.
- Setting monthly deposit limits to protect players from overspending and getting into debt to feed compulsive behaviours.
- Limiting the maximum stakes that can be set for various casino game types.
- Setting play time limits for games like slots where players can set autoplay and thereby burn through their budget too quickly.
There will also be a review of the current taxes and fees on gambling as a way to increase the amount of money available to the Authority to implement and support safe gambling strategies and initiatives.
Lootboxes Come Under Scrutiny
While many countries such as the United Kingdom and the USA acknowledge the link between lootboxes in video games and the dopamine triggers associated with casino games developers like EA continue the predatory practice by exploiting legal loopholes and technicalities.
The Austrian government, however, has openly stated its concern regarding the potential for lootboxes to create gambling habits in young gamers, one which can lead to either underage gambling or adults with gambling addictions.
Blumel has stated that a key agenda item for the gaming authority once it is established will a review of the data surrounding gambling addiction and lootboxes, along with the appropriate reclassification of lootboxes.
Legal and gambling industry experts have strongly suggested that we could see Austria join the ranks of the Netherlands, Japan, and Belgium where lootboxes have been classified and gambling and made illegal due to their intent to target children.