Austria Convicts German Gambler of Running Illegal Casinos

In contradiction with European Union laws an operator of two Austrian casinos was charged with illegal gambling operation.

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Ernst Engelmann was charged with illegal gambling operation and received a fine of €1,300 and a one year suspended sentence by the Linz Regional Court of Austria. Mr. Engelmann operated two casinos in Linz and Schärding as well as several poker rooms that were deemed ‘illegal’ by the court. Since Mr. Engelmann is a German citizen, in 2007, he had no right to apply for a casino license in Austria under Austrian gambling laws.

Mr. Engelmann had previously appealed to the Austrian District Court in Linz, stating that awarding casino licenses to Casino Austria Monopoly was not compatible with European Community legislation. However his appeal was thrown out and he subsequently received a suspended sentence and a fine. Since Austrian gambling laws were amended in 2010, awarding gaming licenses is now subject to EU-wide tender proceedings.

Mr. Engelmann’s legal counsel, Ms. Ruth Patrick, plans to “use all means possible” to fight against the court’s final decision. One of the avenues he plans to pursue is to initiate infringement proceedings against Austria in Brussels EU Court. He also wants Brussels to fine the Republic of Austria €50,000 per day for failure to comply with EU common laws that Austria approved and signed. Among Mr. Engelmann’s other options is to sue the government under the “State liability” stature, which compensates a wrongfully accused or convicted individual if an Austrian court is found to have made a mistake resulting in a financial loss. Meanwhile Mr. Engelmann is retired from the casino industry and is rumored to have started an online casinos network.

Austrian Government has recently been criticized by EU due to a lack of transparency surrounding the process that awarded the 2012 and 2015 casino licenses. Bids for licenses were not collected and instead were awarded in meetings not open to the press or the public. This secretive approach once again contradicting European Union laws.

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