Casinos Austria monopoly under fire

The Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG), Austria’s leading gambling trade group, has called for an end to Casinos Austria’s monopoly in light of the political scandal currently swallowing the operator.

OVWG, which counts among its members bet-at-home, Interwetten, Mr Green and Kindred Group, believes that the controversy around the appointment of former Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) politician Peter Sidlo as CFO of Casinos Austria in May underlines the need for a transparent licencing system. Sidlo is also a district councillor in Vienna, and shareholder of Novomatic.

“The developments of the past few days have shown one thing: Austria urgently needs to rethink its gambling monopoly,” said OVWG in published statement.

“We have received scientific studies from the University of Munich and the University of Vienna, which clearly come to the conclusion that the current monopoly is in violation of EU law,” added Claus Retschitzegger, President of OVWG.

“If Austria is really serious about player protection, it is high time to introduce a transparent, fair and EU-compliant licensing system and an independent supervisory authority. These licences must be put out to tender in a public and transparent procedure and may not be tailored to a particular company,” said Retschitzegger.

Casinos Austria has a monopoly on casinos in the country since 2016, when three other operators had their licences revoked. A recent investigation claims that the appointment of Sidlo was related to licence awards in Vienna, despite him denying those reports.

Sidlo and Novomatic deny any wrongdoing, however, last week Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) officers carried a series of police raids investigating corruption between politicians and the country’s monopoly operator.

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