Gambling in Austria
Austria (Republic of Austria) – a country located in Central Europe with a population of 8.46 million people. The country is a member of the European Union, that’s why, as in other EU countries, gambling is legalized in Austria. Monopolized land-based casinos and online gambling websites operate on the territory of the country.
Active organization of gambling in Austria began in the first half of the twentieth century. To date, the Austrian gambling market is a healthy and pragmatic model strictly regulated by legislation. According to statistics, for the first fiscal quarter of 2016, revenues of land-based casinos alone totaled EUR 155.8 million.
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The history of gambling in Austria
Gambling in Austria, or rather in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, existed even before the beginning of the twentieth century as places of entertainment for the upper class. In those times, casinos were not a business or a significant source of the country's income. Therefore, gambling age Austria for visiting such gambling venues wasn’t determined.
The first State gambling venues began to appear in the 20s of the twentieth century after the destruction of the Austrian lands during the First World War. Casinos were considered an additional source of replenishment of the state treasury.
Here is the list of especially important dates for the history of gambling in Austria:
- 1922 – issuance of the first license for the organization of a casino in Salzburg.
- 1933 – organization of gambling is permitted throughout the country. However, casinos are monopolized. All casinos were owned by the company Austrian Casino AG/Laxenburg.
- 1934 – opening of the first casino corporation in the ski resort in Austria. It is worth noting that the majority of gambling venues were opened by a similar principle since then: casinos were placed in Austrian resorts within large hotels.
- 1938 – Austrian lands came under the control of Nazi Germany, where legislation prohibited gambling. The only institution that functioned until 1944 was the Casino Wien Vienna Austria in Baden near Vienna. The casino didn’t operate until the liberation of the Austrian state from invaders.
- After the war, Austria was divided. The western part was controlled by the United States, France, and England, the East – by Russia. However, even in these difficult times for the country, a school of dealers opened in 1945 in Vienna.
- In the 1945-1946 years, there was an attempt to restore the activity of some casinos. However, the institution in casinos in Vienna Austria in the eastern part of the country was used as Soviet headquarters. Reopening of the casino in the hotel “Penthouse” at the ski resort also was not successful.
- 1950 – foreign investors have shown interest in gambling in Austria. Three casinos were opened in the western part of the state – in Bad Gastein, Salzburg, and Velden.
- 1955 – Casino in Baden near Vienna resumed its work.
- In the 60ies, the development of casinos in Austria has gained a new momentum. Casinos appeared in major resort areas of the country. The occupation left behind, and the government tried to derive the maximum benefit from the organization of gambling. It was decided to monopolize all existing gambling venues.
- 1967 – opening of the company declared to be a monopoly – Casinos Austria (Österreichische Spielbanken AG). Unlike the previous corporation, the new Casinos Austria belongs to the Austrians, and 70% of casino shares are owned by the authorities.
Since the establishment of monopolies, Casinos Austria remains the main supplier of gambling in land-based casinos to this day. The company has successfully destroyed the tradition of the organization of gambling only in resort areas. Having opened casinos in big Austrian cities, the corporation has moved to a new stage of development entering the international market. First – Europe, then – the world.
Today, Casinos Austria AG gave rise to the new corporation – Casinos Austria Group. The new holding company is the owner of:
- 34% shares of Austrian Lotteries;
- Casino Austria AG;
- Casino Austria International;
- Casino Austria Security Technologies – a company operating in the field of security and transparency in the development of software for casinos.
- Betting companies and online casinos.
The regulation of gambling business in Austria
Organization of gambling in Austria is regulated by the Gambling Act Austria (Glücksspielgesetz) operating since 1989. The law is designed to control the quality and safety of gambling entertainment services on the one hand and to increase tax revenues to the state treasury on the other. Government intervention into the organization of gambling is justified by the desire to provide protection for the players to prevent the development of gambling addiction.
In the list of control objectives, the authorities of the State identified:
- preventing the development of organized crime at the expense of profits from gambling establishments;
- preventing the occurrence of fraud illegal organizations conducting illegal money transactions and enriching at the expense of people suffering from gambling addiction;
- consumer protection and the protection of young people from problem gambling development.
Gambling services are regulated by both state and federal authorities. The nuances of the organization of gambling in different federal states of the country may vary. Licenses for various types of gambling activities are given by government representatives and Casinos Austria Group Corporation. Advertising of gambling venues and the organization of charitable gambling events are deals with separately. The main body dealing with issues of gambling services is Ministry of Finance of Austria. So, answering the question if is gambling legal in Austria – it definitely is.
Measures were taken to protect the consumer
Starting from the 1st December 2010, Staff Unit acts in Austria – a special personnel trained to control the game in land-based gambling venues. The unit was created by the Federal Ministry of Finance for preventing the emergence of gambling addiction among the citizens and guests of Austria.
Main unit objectives:
- Financial and information support for research on the issue of gambling addiction.
- Coordination of various organizations working in the protection of consumers of game content.
- Developing common standards of service quality in gambling institutions in the context of protecting players from the development of gambling addiction.
- Technical evaluation of players protection programs in licensed casinos.
- Education and informing people about the risks associated with gambling entertainment.
The conditions of visiting Austrian casinos
Another way to deal with problem gambling in Austria – some requirements and restrictions on the issue of visiting casinos by citizens and guests of the country. Gambling rules in Austria:
- Gambling age in Austria is 18 years. Persons who are able to confirm their age with documents are allows visiting gambling venues.
- A visitor must provide photo identification. These certificates are copied and stored in the Casinos Austria database for at least five years.
- Each casino has statistics of visits and dynamics of playing for every user. If a player appears in gambling venues too often, plays at high stakes and loses, he may be denied access during another visit.
- Casinos check the credit history of each of its visitors. If necessary, specially trained staff conducts individual interviews with clients, providing information about the risks associated with gambling.
- If a player has doubtful solvency, the administration of a casino can interrupt the game or deny the customer to visit a casino. Casino guests are free to apply for the restriction of access to gambling venues as well.
Gambling games in Austria
All gambling services provided in the territory of the Republic of Austria are legally divided into several categories. Each of them has its own rules. Among them, there are:
- casino games;
- slot machines outside casinos;
- Austrian online gambling company services.
The Austrian Government divides all gambling entertainment into two types – “hard” and “soft” gambling. The division takes place by bet sizes and the volume of theoretical gains. Thus, playing at low stakes is allowed throughout Austria, including online casinos. Playing at high stakes is allowed only in land-based casinos of monopoly company Casinos Austria.
The largest segment of the gambling market Austria is represented by real casinos, lottery, and betting spots. All organizations operate under the Casinos Austria Group and are divided into several divisions:
- land-based casinos are supervised by Casinos Austria AG;
- lottery and betting places belong to Österreichische Lotterien Ges.m.b.H .;
- a certain part of the market belongs to Casinos Austria International.
Land-based Austrian casinos
Today, there are 12 legalized casinos in Austria headed by the national operator Casinos Austria, mostly owned by the state. The staff of all casinos in Austria includes 1689 people. The casino attendance increased in 2016 in comparison with previous years. Today, there are more than 2.7 million visits, while in 2013, this number was 2.3 million.
In addition to attendance, revenues of casinos are growing as well. Here is a comparative list:
- 2013 – EUR 254,9 million;
- 2014 – EUR 258 million;
- 2015 – EUR 310 million.
As of 2015, gambling tax Austria paid by casinos totaled EUR 118,93 million, and the annual revenue brought EUR 20,35 mln.
Land-based casinos provide popular games that are allowed by the state. Among them:
- casino wien poker;
- Blackjack Aces;
- slot machines.
All 12 Austrian casinos contain a total of 211 gaming tables and 2,000 slot machines. During 2015, casinos of Casinos Austria Group holding were the venue for 849 tournaments.
Lotteries and betting
National lotteries and betting are very popular in Austria. Such gambling entertainment is absolutely legal. Their greatest appeal is that the games do not require large investments. Lottery tickets and minimal bets taken on sports are so low that they can be accessible to all segments of the population, including the unemployed. Availability creates demand, which is displayed in the statistics.
- State lottery WinWin, owned by Casinos Austria Group, belong to the division of Österreichische Lotterien Ges.m.b.H. Today, there are 5193 spots through the entire country where you can purchase lottery tickets.Due to the company report for 2015, sales amounted to EUR 3 billion, which is 68 million less than in 2014. This indicates a partial reduction of audience interest in the lottery through increasing demand for casino entertainment. The total tax on lottery amounted to EUR 461 million, and annual revenue – EUR 60,32 mln.
- Betting operator tipp3 – the most popular bookmaker in Austria. On the territory of the whole country, there are 3458 betting places, where you can bet on sport. Betting brand, as well as the Austrian lottery, belong to Österreichische Lotterien Ges.m.b.H.
Gambling Online in Austria
Online gambling in Austria is not prohibited. However, the delivery of virtual gambling entertainment is also nationalized. Companies that have received a license from the monopoly Casinos Austria Group are able to provide gaming platforms containing:
- digital versions of table games (roulette, blackjack, poker);
- online slot machines;
- digital lotteries;
- sports betting online.
Austrian gambling websites work for both PCs and mobile devices. They also organize interactive programs on TV. The only restriction set for national operators is the size of bets. Online casinos are the representatives of “soft gambling”. Gambling venues for high stakes are available only in one of 12 casinos of Casinos Austria AG.
As for the foreign operators, there are some bureaucratic difficulties here. To get the right to provide gambling services in Austria, foreign operators need to open subsidiaries in the country, which must obtain a license. Otherwise, gaming platforms will be blocked due to violating the gambling law in Austria.
Austrian manufacturers in the global market
In addition to the active development of the gambling industry in the country, Austrian companies participate in the international market. Austrian developers deliver gaming products in land-based and online casinos worldwide. Among the world-famous gambling companies in Austria, there are manufacturers:
- Amatic Industries – a company engaged in design, development, and providing of software to casinos. Over 90% of the products made by the manufacturer are export-oriented. A distinctive feature of Amatic digital solutions is the adaptation of slots and casino games for each country in particular (refers to localization, language adaptation, etc.)
- APEX Gaming Technology – a developer and supplier of digital and real casino entertainment. The company produces:
- Novomatic – the world famous developer of virtual versions of slots and table games for land-based and online casinos. In addition to slots, the company develops solutions for digital lotteries and betting. Today, the Novomatic Group is the largest Austrian manufacturer, uniting under its command several studios and offices and actively cooperating with other national developers.
- Impera GmbH – a studio which develops digital slot machines, table games, arcade machines. Since 2011, it signed a cooperation agreement with Novomatic and therefore gained access to the international market.
- Infinity Games – a company developing multiplayer casino games, that is applications available to play a game for several users simultaneously. The company's products presented on the world market are:
b. table games;
c. mobile gambling applications;
d. software solutions and management systems for online casinos.
a. Multiplayer Automatic & Hybrid roulette;
b. Multiplayer electronic Poker table.
The future of gambling market in Austria
To date, Austrian gaming market is a stable and regulated segment in the field of entertainment acting in the national interest. The gambling law Austria regulating the work of gambling venues online and offline are to ensure consumers safe and responsible game, as well as to provide a stable financial inflow to the state budget. The monopolization of gambling allows controlling the market, thus preventing the spread of illegal casinos and gambling addiction among visitors of terrestrial and virtual gambling venues.
By studying the statistical and accounting data of Casinos Austria Group, the rising demand for gambling can be noted. Revenues of casinos and the attendance of gambling venues are increasing in both segments – offline and online. The active participation of national developers and companies in the foreign market also supplements the state budget at the expense of foreign players.
The issue with foreign suppliers remains unsolved. Strict control and complex bureaucratic procedures do not allow the holders of British and Maltese licenses to act as members of the Austrian gambling market. At the moment, conflicts with the EU are not observed. However, there is no guarantee that foreign companies will not address to the Antimonopoly Committee of the European Union as it happened in the case of Norway which banned online casinos in the state.
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