Austria’s Financial Police Finanzpolizei has reportedly confiscated more than 660 gaming machines in 278 inspections conducted since January, raising concerns about illegal gaming activities, especially in urban areas with more than half of the confiscated machines located in Wien.
Although illegal gambling in rural areas has been significantly reduced, police have noted a significant rise in large urban centres. In Vienna alone, the Finanzpolizei has imposed more than €13 million in fines, but has also seen a increase in illegal gambling activity in Linz, with recent raids confiscating 38 gaming machines in the area, including 20 from a restaurant investigated seven times in as many weeks by police.
Austrian Minister of Finance Gernot Blümel praised the authorities for reducing illegal gambling in rural areas: “I congratulate the colleagues from the financial police on these remarkable successes. Illegal gambling is now concentrated in the metropolitan areas and thanks to the excellent work of the financial police, it is no longer active across the country.”
Blümel has also called for an independent gambling regulator to be created, a move that will see regulatory responsibility removed from the treasury.
This move took place after the Austrian gambling trade association called for an end to the monopoly of Casinos Austria following accusations of corruption over its selection of Peter Sidlo as CFO of shareholder Novomatic. Since then Novomatic has sold its company stake to the Czech gaming giant Sazka Group.