Austrian Gambling Laws Do Not Comply ECJ Rules

Published Friday, September 10, 2010 -

The European Court of Justice has ruled that portions of Austria's gaming laws do not comply with EU competition laws regarding e commerce.
In Austria the Federal Minister of Finance is mandated to allow as many as 12 licenses to operate gaming establishments. The holders of the permits must be public limited companies based in Austria.

In the case of Austria all 12 concessions were granted and renewed without public tender to Casino Austria. Casinos Austria International and its partners currently operate 39 land based casinos in 17 countries, 5 shipboard casinos, 15 slot parlours, a range of lottery products in Argentina, and the new online gaming platform CAIGAMES.COM. Together the CAI Group’s gaming entertainment operations are comprised of over 750 gaming tables and 7,600 gaming machines.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it is an unfair requirement that permit holders be headquartered in Austria, stating the obligation, "constitutes a restriction on freedom of establishment."
The court stated that the exclusion of operators from other E.U. member states is "disproportionate" as it goes beyond what is necessary to prevent crime.
The ECJ statement  continued, "In addition, any undertaking established in a member state can be supervised and have sanctions imposed on it, regardless of the place of residence of its managers," "Moreover, there is nothing to prevent supervision being carried out on the premises of the establishments in order, in particular, to prevent any fraud being committed by the operators against consumers."

European Gaming and Betting Association secretary general, Sigrid Ligne, commented, "Today’s ruling against the Austrian gambling laws confirms clearly that member states cannot require E.U. licensed online operators to be physically present on their territory. In the digital age there are obviously other more efficient means available to monitor the activities of the operators. The European Commission has been given new legal arguments to pursue infringement procedures against several member states that have similar provisions."




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