OVWG urges Austria not to miss the boat on 2021 reforms

Claus Retschitzegger, President of The Austrian Association for Betting and Gaming (OVWG), has called for sports and betting leaders to unite behind Austria in adopting a ‘modern online gambling licensing system’.

The OVWG published a statement calling for Austrian sports and parliamentary leaders to begin discussions on developing a modern governance framework for online gambling and sports betting services which will benefit Austrian sports.

Leading initiatives, Retschitzegger stated that the current rate of COVID-19 infections will likely result in a tightening of government finances, leading to a grave concern for the economic well-being of Austrian professional sports. 

Mirroring its neighbour Germany, to date Austria’s online gambling laws have been fragmented by the provincial Bundesländer (state courts), with the country maintaining no federal framework to regulate business services, transactions and integrity matters.

Calling for urgent reforms, the OVWG underlined that adopting an effective licensing system with dedicated federal taxes and license fees could benefit domestic sports, with up to €50 million ‘without burdening state budgets further’. 

“Austrian sport and the gaming and betting providers have always been important business partners, which is why we want to support them even in this difficult situation,” said Retschitzegger. “A permanent way to make more money for the sport is to introduce a contemporary online gambling licensing system.

“With additional taxes and license fees, €30 to €50 million can be earned and dedicated to Austrian sport. This would help them – in addition to the existing sports funding and sponsorship services – without further burdening the state budget, which is already strained by COVID-19.”

The OVWG warned Austria’s Bundesländer that by continuing to uphold antiquated systems that govern online gambling services, their fragmented laws are simply endangering national consumers.

Of further concern, Retschitzegger and OVWG underlined that Austria’s gambling laws and consumer safeguards will fall below EU member state requirements, should their resistance to reforms continue. 

A modern licensing system, as almost all EU countries already have, would bring further added value to Austria and ensure the attractiveness of the business location,” he said.

Seeking wider support, the OVWG emphasised that online gambling has ‘already benefited Austria’ with regulated provinces collecting a reported €123 million in gaming taxes during 2019.

In addition, OVWG highlighted online gambling’s labour contribution, which sees the sector employ 1,000 highly skilled workers within Austria. 

Closing its statement, the OVWG noted that the Austrian government and provincial courts can no longer afford to ignore a sector that contributes €50 million per annum in sponsorships to professional sports clubs. 

It concluded: “Compliance with these high standards is already a matter of course for the members of the OVWG. With a licensing system, we as a company would also have the necessary legal security to be able to comprehensively plan our sponsorship services for the next few years.”

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