The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) is not at all happy with the manner in which an Austrian state has established its sports gambling policies. Each Austrian state has been granted the capacity to create its own rules, and IBIA feels that Lower Austria has put in place a structure that the association feels unfair to participants in online gambling. The group is so worried about the laws that it has decided to bring its case to the European Commission (EC) directly so that it can intervene.
Lower Austria had a structure that has been in place since 1978 to cover retail gambling activities. That framework is based on the country’s Law on Totalizers and Bookmakers, and the state thought it was essential to produce distinct rules when online gambling began to make its way to the front lines.
Retail gambling permits are awarded for a ten-year period, but internet permits are only issued for up to two years. Moreover, Lower Austria wants to ban live gambling and put a €350 ($385) limit on each wager, with several limiting the activity.
The IBIA argues that these constraints will lead operators to avoid the state, leave only illegal operators and call the laws “unjustified and discriminatory.”
It adds in a written response (in pdf) to the rules:
“The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) contends that the notified draft law includes an unjustified short licensing duration limitation for online betting, an unwarranted restriction on live (in-play) betting products and an arbitrary limit on consumer stakes. The Lower Austrian authorities have not provided any evidence that would justify such measures which will have a detrimental impact on the market and the level of consumer channelling. The association therefore requests that the Commission explore the appropriateness and compatibility of these unjustified product limitations and the related restriction of trade imposed on licensed betting operators and Austrian consumers in accordance with EU law.”
The EC has already intervened in Germany and now the IBIA wants the committee to intervene to mitigate the Austrian case. While not specifically stated, the perfect result would be for the EC to provide advice that could be applied to all European sports gambling activities, regardless of the nation where the activity is taking place.
While this is a lofty objective, it would eventually assist controlled gambling operators drive more activity and help push out offshore companies that only put cash into their own pockets.