Upper Austria, one of the nine states in the country of Austria, has finally decided to legalize the use of low-limit video slot and poker machines inside hotels and restaurants. The government of Upper Austria found it impossible to combat the rampant use of illegal slot machines, which are found in most hotels, restaurants and even butcher shops throughout the state. After calculating the amount of tax revenues lost to illegal video slots, the state decided to modify Austrian gambling laws to license, tax and control the industry.
SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) chairman Christian Illedits stated – “You cannot prevent people from gambling on those machines. They can only be regulated and controlled. The video gambling machines are legal in (the states of) Vienna, Lower Austria and Styria, but also in neighboring countries. We must also remember that there are the online casino in Austria.” The state will be using the expected several million in new tax revenue between rural communities and government services on a 60:40 basis.
The Association of Municipalities which is worried that every Austrian will ‘become infected with the gambling disease’ is at odds with the Chamber of Commerce, which needs to maximize tax revenues. While the Association states that “Player safety should have priority over other aspects. 50 cents must be the maximum for any bets on the video machines,” the Chamber believes that a maximum of €10 per bet would generate higher tax revenues, and too few people would play on 50 cent video slots. The Association of Cities commented that ‘a balance between revenue losses for municipalities and player safety must be maintained.’
Despite the debate, video slots and video poker games will become licensed in Upper Austria within the next 30 days. Internet gambling is currently legal inside Austraia but only by licensed online casinos based inside the country which are not allowed to admit foreign players.