For a while, the rules governing gambling in Austria have supported a monopoly of a sort. Many people enjoy taking part in gambling activities as a pastime and some take it as a profession. With this popularity, the national government has always felt the need to keep a close eye on this industry. But with the changing times in Europe under the EU, they’ve been forced to make changes as well.
Local operators were previously licensed in a manner that made the industry a monopoly. This is despite the directives from the ECJ that suggest it’s not the right way to do it. But it’s a commonality in Europe where some countries are yet to change the industry. Recent changes in Sweden, However, have many countries including Austria seeking to revitalize.
All gambling activities are legal in Austria and it’s the Ministry of Finance that oversees the industry. They get to issue local operators with necessary licenses to provide gambling products including online casinos. It’s their mandate to supervise and ensure all licensed companies adhere to set rules and regulations in the country. Each company must meet set requirements before getting an official license to set up shop physically or online. Recently there have been numerous calls by the Ministry to establish an independent gambling regulator.
Only those who are located within Austria are currently permitted to offer gambling activities in it. Offshore companies are still not welcome and licensed to operate in the country. But, they still do especially online since it’s hard to keep Austrians from their sites. Apart from being located in Austria, locally licensed operators are only permitted to serve Austrians.
Facts and Figures on Gambling in Austria
- Total Gambling Gross Revenue from lotteries and Casinos 2018 EUR 4.49 billion
- Total Tax paid from the Gross Revenue of Lotteries and Casinos EUR 509.49 million
- Casinos Austria had a Gross revenue of EUR 314.13 million in 2018
- Total number of Casino employees as of 2018 2650
- Number of Casino guests in Austria in 2018 2.63 million
- Casino games in totality across Austria- 237 gaming tables, 2361 slot machines, 785 video lottery terminals
- Lottery Picks played- 993 million total pick slip-based games, 694 million lotto, and lotto plus pick, 143 million EuroMillions pick
Licensing of Gambling Operators in Austria
To be a licensed gambling activities operator in Austria, you must fulfill some important requirements. First, you must be located in Austria as a local operator. It simply means you contend with the revenue you generate from the country only. Second, your products are directed to Austrians only and not the international market. This is despite Austria being part of the larger European Economic Area.
The rules in Austria are viewed by many as outdated and in need of quick change. Despite international companies not being legal, they still have a presence in the country. The best step to safeguard the Austrian people would be to license and supervise them. Local operators get to benefit immensely from this exclusion of offshore operators and the main products are casinos and lotteries in this country.
The fact remains the federal government is permitted to establish monopolies in Austria. It does so under the Federal Constitutional Act of Austria. The Austrian Gaming Act is the main driver of all gambling activities in the country. There is a need to distinguish between the federal government and the local provinces that number to 9. The strictness of the gambling industry is about public safety. The federal government ensures the highest security standards and measures are implemented at all times.
Europe has had to deal with an increasing number of problem gamblers and security risks associated with the industry. The reason countries like Austria keep foreign companies at bay is the lack of surety their activities don’t fund crime. Local operators are easier to monitor and audit keeping them in line as per the country’s laws. The same is not easy for international companies located elsewhere in the world.
Most local operators are found in the casino market which is one of the largest in the country. Of all gambling products, it’s the one most gamblers flock to. It has a little competition and not as monopolized as the lottery. Lottery in Austria is a monopoly and under the federal government. 12 main casinos in Austria get a total of 2.6 million guests per year.
For other gambling products such as sports betting, rules and regulations are on a provincial level. The federal government only involves itself with lotteries. Each province in Austria gets to issue operators with a license for sports betting. This is in line with their local betting act that differs from one province to the next. There are also slot machines that are not inside casinos and are under the same rules and regulations as sport betting.
License and License Restrictions in Austria
In Austria, every local operator needs an official license to provide gambling products and activities. Without it, you are operating illegally in the country. It’s one country that permits advertising in the gambling industry but doesn’t issue a different license for this. All sports betting and independent slot machines need to seek licensing form the local provincial authorities.
All lottery games are licensed and controlled by the national government under a monopoly. Only one company is issued this single license to operate lottery activities in Austria. Osterreichische Lotterien GmbH was issued this license in 2012 and holds it for 12 years. This is the only lottery company to hold this license in this country.
Any operator seeking a license in Austria for land-based and online casinos must be established within the EU and the EEA. Lotteries licenses are granted in the form of a transparent tendering system. Each company that bids must meet set requirements. The restrictions that are present in Austria are specific to each gambling product and not general as in other countries.
Taxation in the Austrian Gambling Industry
Taxes are levied to operators in Austria whether licensed or not. According to the VAT law games of chance and betting are exempt from the 20% VAT. The only exception is on slot machines draws that are outside of casinos. Each product has to pay different taxes.
For online and offline betting, the tax levied is 2% on all stakes. Online gambling incurs a 40% tax on Gross Gaming Revenue derived from stakes minus winnings. 27.5% on lottery stakes is the levied tax. Slot machines located independently from casinos and lottery VLTs are 10% of their Net Gaming revenue. Land-based casinos incur 30% on Gross Gaming Revenue derived from stakes minus winnings. The slot machines in these casinos 30% on Net Gaming Revenue.
Recently the call to change the gambling industry in Austria has intensified. The federal government and those at provincial levels keep taxing international operators. This is even though they won’t issue them with operating licenses. These recent events might bring needed change with the Ministry of Finance proposing a regulator be established for the gambling industry.
With the wave of change sweeping across Europe’s gambling industry, more change is in the air for Austria. Certain gambling products are held at the federal level like casinos and lotteries. Others like sport betting are under provincial jurisdictions with each having different rules and regulations. Austrians enjoy gambling making it a very popular pastime in the country.
Read also: Gambling Legislation in the EU.