Austria Official Seeks Establishment of Independent Gaming AuthorityPublished April 1, 2020 by Lee R
Spurious intersection of private and public interests in Austria has garnered calls for an independent authority.
In Austria, the Finance Minister is looking to adapt regulation with the formation of an independent gambling regulator.
Calling For Change
With market regulation currently in the hands of Austria's Treasury, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel called for the change on Austrian television over the weekend.
Organizing Functions Better
Blümel expressed a desire to “untangle” multiple functions currently held within the Treasury, starting with the “outsourcing” of gaming licencing and supervision to an independent authority, similar to many models across Europe today.
Casinos Austria Scandal
The challenges in Austria today are embodied in the current state of affairs of gambling monopoly Casinos Austria, which has been rocked by scandals of late.
The allegation of most concern was Casinos Austria's appointment of Freedom Party of Austria member Peter Sidlo as CFO.
The appointment of Sidlo, who is also currently serving as Vienna's district councilor, is suspected to have taken place to ensure Freedom Party political favors for Novomatic.
Whistleblowers at Novomatic first revealed the allegations about Novomatic, which was hoping to secure a casino licence in Vienna while holding a 17.19% stake in Casinos Austria.
The agreement, which would have effectively done away with Casinos Austria’s monopoly, has been categorically denied by all parties implicated.
Blümel's Resolution Proposal
With the scandal threatening to widen and get increasingly complex, Blümel is nonetheless championing a settlement package for Casinos Austria:
“Casinos Austria is a traditional company in Austria that provides over 3,000 jobs” while calling for things to “settle down” so that “jobs, its location and tax revenue remain secure.”
Blümel’s intervention seeks to pacify disparate forces within Austria, including Austrian gambling trade association the Österreichische Vereinigung für Wetten und Glücksspiel (ÖVWG), which called for an end to Casinos Austria’s monopoly in the wake of the Sidlo allegations.
With Casinos Austria retaining its monopoly since 2016, and three other providers having seen their licences revoked; a separation of church and state when it comes to governing gaming certainly looks like the best way forward for Austria in the current climate.