Austrian gambling laws have been criticized by Eleanor Sharpston, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice. She criticized the legislation on the back of inconsistencies in the Austrian gambling licensing process, and called on other EU member states to create a consistent legal framework and provide evidence to back this up.
Despite some of the biggest names in online gambling – such as bwin – originating as online casinos in Austria, the country has some awkward laws in place that prevent companies from expanding. All Austrian gambling companies are only allowed to offer their services within the country’s borders. On the other hand, there have been no moves to block foreign based online casinos from operating within the Central European nation.
Sharpston called up a number of previous court cases involving the Austrian gambling laws I her judgment, and also said that: “advertising that encourages gambling by trivialising it, giving it a positive image or increasing its attractiveness aims to expand the overall market for gaming activities rather than channelling the existing market to certain providers. Such an expansionist commercial policy is plainly inconsistent with an aim of achieving high level of protection for consumers.”
This is, of course, not the first time the countries laws have been questioned, yet the countries mobile casino industry continues to flourish. As such, the EGBA association of European gaming has welcomed Advocate General Sharpston’s criticism, and even backed it up.
Association secretary general,Maarten Haijer, said: “It becomes clear from today’s opinion that the AG does not consider the Austrian gambling legislation as fulfilling the consistency requirement in order to comply with EU legislation and existing jurisprudence.
“By reaffirming the obligation for national regulation to be consistent, the opinion once again confirms the ‘red lines’ of EU jurisprudence that member states cannot cross. It reinforces the need for the European Commission to fulfill its role as guardian of the treaties, including by making use of infringement procedures where needed.”