The Brussels-based online gambling trade association, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), lashed out at Austria over its refusal to consider relinquishing its state monopoly on online games of chance and online poker in an article entitled:
“Like Its Famous Classical Orchestras, Austria’s Online Gambling Regulation Needs The Right Instruments”
Despite its tongue on cheek title the content of the article is far from flippant, rather the EGBA raises several valid points which outline the ineffectiveness of localised monopolies, the risk it poses to safer gambling and the opportunity cost of only allowing a single taxable gambling entity.
Why Gambling Monopolies Are Failing Across Europe
Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General of the EGBA, outlined the following simple reasons why Austria is not serving itself nor its residents by clinging to its outdated gambling monopoly:
- The internet is not limited by geography – With the increase in mobile and online adoption, it is easier than ever for consumers to find the best deals online. Players will seek to play at up to 6 gambling sites which ensure Austrians are gambling illegally.
- Single license states are not revenue efficient – With players seeking diversity in their gambling sites and more attractive casino bonuses, the local market is losing licensing and tax revenues to illegal offshore casinos.
- Monopolies are objectively not better for safer gambling – Players are protected from gambling harm by well thought out laws and effective management of the same, not by the mere existence of a monopoly. In fact, a monopoly can push players to unsafe gambling sites in search of bigger bonuses and little to no gambling taxes. The fact that Denmark (multi-licensed) has a problem gambling ratio of 0.7% compared to Finland’s (monopoly) 3% is a strong case for licensing.
- Effective multi-license regulation is a game-changer – The EU’s sharp rise in regulated markets offering multiple licenses to qualifying offshore gambling sites is proof that online gambling can be managed such that players are protected, and the marketplace becomes a strong revenue generator for the local economy.
In addition to the revenues generated by the act of gambling, there is also an incredibly positive knock-on effect for local businesses as international operators seek out marketing expertise, translation services, visual design artists, and many other skilled and unskilled local workers to assist them in servicing the local market.
There is also a marked increase in the ad spend directed towards not only online media in regulated markets but also television, radio, and print, not to mention sponsorships of local sports teams, events and venues.
How Online Gambling Currently Works in Austria
At present online gambling is enforced at a federal in Austria. The Law on Games of Chance (Glücksspielgesetz, or GSpG) falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Finances, the same body which is responsible for the national lottery.
The same entity which holds the monopoly on Austrian land-based gambling, Casinos Austria, also thereby holds the rights to the country’s online legally recognised casino platform, Win2Day.
In 2013 the Austrian Finance Ministry voted to have poker recognised as a game of chance, rather than one of skill, this means that fans of legal online poker in Austria are required to play at Win2Day as well.
In order to channel all of Austria’s legal online gambling through a single portal the Win2Day site also offers players access to online bingo and online betting.