OVWG President Urges Austrian Officials To Get Behind Reforms

Claus Retschitzegger, President of the Austrian Association for Betting and Gaming (OVWG), called for the introduction of a ‘modern online gambling licencing system’ by sports and betting leaders to unite behind Austria.

The OVWG released a statement calling for the start of discussions by Austrian sports and parliamentary leaders on the establishment of a new governance system for online gambling and sports betting facilities that will support Austrian sports.

Retschitzegger, the leading initiative, reported that the current rate of COVID-19 infections is likely to lead to a tightening of government finances, leading to serious questions about the economic well-being of Austrian professional sports.

To date, the online gaming laws of Austria have been divided by the governance of the regional Bundesländer (state courts), with the country having no federal system for the control of business facilities, transactions and matters of integrity.

Calling for immediate changes, the OVWG stressed that introducing an efficient licencing scheme with dedicated federal taxes and licence fees, with up to EUR 50 million ‘without further burdening of state budgets,’ might support domestic sports.

Retschitzegger detailed in the OVWG statement: “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. 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 euros 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 their fractured laws are literally threatening national consumers by continuing to maintain antiquated structures regulating online gambling services.

Of further concern, Retschitzegger and OVWG emphasised that, should their opposition to changes persist, Austria’s gaming laws and consumer protections will fall below EU member state requirements.

“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,” Retschitzegger added.

The OVWG stressed that online gambling has ‘already benefited Austria’ by finding wider funding, with controlled provinces raising a combined EUR 123 million in gaming taxes during 2019.

In addition, OVWG highlighted the labour contribution of online gaming, which sees the industry hiring 1,000 highly qualified staff within Austria.

The OVWG concluded its argument by stating that the Austrian government and provincial courts can no longer afford to neglect an industry that contributes EUR 50 million annually to the sponsorship of professional sports clubs.

“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, the OVWG concluded.