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Interview with Dr. Mag. Klaus Christian Vögl

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Dr. Mag. Klaus Christian Vögl, the long-serving Managing Director of the Department of Leisure and Sports Facilities in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, offers here his lucid opinions on gambling and betting legislation in Austria. He not just talks about the nitty-gritty of legislation, but clearly implies where the new legislation could lead the betting industry to.

He is critical of Austria’s legislators and regulator. He says some of the legislators wantsimply to preserve and protect the acquis of monopoly companies (Austrian Lotteries, Casinos Austria)”. He talks positively about the way gambling legislation is changing in Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe.

There is much more. Read on for an enlightening interview with one of the foremost legal experts in Europe.

I’d first like to ask you to begin with a few words about yourself. It’s always nice to hear top-class professionals say a few words about themselves for our audience.

Klaus: I´m Managing Director of the Department of Leisure and Sports Facilities in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce since 1981. Our specialist group looks after around 40 different branches, from tourist guides to dance schools and sports companies to the gambling and betting sector. The companies in the gambling monopoly sector are members of another division of the Chamber. Here in Austria, we have a statutory compulsory membership of all commercial enterprises in the Chamber of Commerce, which is around 600,000.

 

Now on to betting laws in Austria. Protective can be a word used for the gambling legislation in the country. It is also somewhat unique in its distinction between betting and gambling. Your thoughts on this?

Klaus: The distinction made by the Austrian Federal Constitution is indeed special. Gambling is a federal matter and essentially regulated in a monopoly, sports betting is a matter of the state and governed by various different state laws. In the betting area, there is (still) a free market regulated under very strict conditions, apart from Vienna. In Vienna the competent authority, due to political decisions, almost does not issue licenses although we have a brand new state law.

 

The betting law varies from region to region in Austria. For instance, the betting law of Salzburg is different from that of Vienna. What about a uniform betting legislation throughout the country – like the gambling legislation?

Klaus: In fact, the current government program plans to transfer the betting system into federal competence. In principle, nothing would be objectionable. For the providers operating throughout Austria, it could even be a great advantage and a simplification. However, we fear that the legislator and the stakeholders behind it could establish a monopoly or oligopoly, in order to eliminate the free market. As was accomplished concerning slot machines before in 2012.

 There have been reports about new amendments in the betting and gambling legislation, ranging from IP blocking for online betting to the operation of biometric recognition in slot apparatus and setting up of a Competence Center. How are these legal amendments going to affect the betting industry in the country? Is it going to be stricter?

Klaus: We fear that the train will roll in the stricter direction. The planned changes in the gambling sector that you address are not yet affecting sports betting. Setting up biometric controls is not a problem for our industry in itself, even welcomed. What worries us most of all at the moment is the demonization of the betting terminals and, in Vienna in special, the legislators fight against betting exchange. Imagine: the whole country, the government and the whole of Europe is talking about digitization, and then we should get back to the bookmakers switch if possible. Whereas it anyway still exists.

Isn’t the conservative approach to betting and gambling legislation a hindrance to the growth of betting and gambling industry in the country?

Klaus: Absolutely, but that’s the political will of all political parties in Austria. The Chamber of Commerce is also in favour of strict framework conditions. The gambling and betting market does not have to grow at all, but it should be regulated in a consolidated way. This applies, for example, to the area of online gambling, which is totally ignored by our gambling law, or even online betting, for example, for which the Viennese authorities declare to be not responsible. Only in Salzburg you can apply for such a license concerning betting.

The gaming world has been witnessing a massive change with the introduction of new software platforms, crypto currencies and generally smarter operators. How is Austria’s law faring against the changes?

Klaus: Not at all, these areas are ignored and declared illegal by our regulator. The aim of the legislator is simply to preserve and protect the acquis of monopoly companies (Austrian Lotteries, Casinos Austria).

What are the major challenges facing the formulation of betting and gambling legislation as a whole? There is a thin line separating the need for protecting the society from gambling addiction and the need for allowing the industry to grow economically. How do the legislators negotiate this inherent conflict of interests?

Klaus: Legislators see, as far as private sector providers are concerned, exclusively the field of protection of players and minors. Economic considerations or argumentation with secure jobs go nowhere, and there is not even a willingness to talk in Vienna. In the federal states, the policy is sometimes more prudent. When, for example, in Vienna in 2014, the “small slot machine game” was turned off by the legislature, this brought many gastronomic businesses and of course also long-established vending machines companies in distress. We argued with a high number of jobs and a tax loss alone from the amusement tax of around 80 million Euros for the city of Vienna, per year. Then a politician in a leading medium said, “these jobs are worth nothing”. In such a view, unfortunately, every factual conversation is unnecessary. On the other hand, the protected monopoly sector is expected to grow, with regular sales and profit figures being published on a regular basis, pointing out the high social importance of gambling. That this is not EU-coherent, is evident.

 

What are the chances of realizing a unified betting law for Europe, at least for online gambling and betting? A legal equivalent of Euro, that is.

Klaus: The ball is clearly in the hands of the commission, which has been squandering on the “hot mush” for years. Even the Services Directive excluded the gambling sector. The chances are not good in the short term. In the medium term, the need to intervene regulatively cannot be ignored. We can only hope that this does not happen too restrictive, although with full respect for consumer protection, which is one of the declared main aims oft he EU.

 

On to a more general question now. E-sports are gaining more recognition and exponential popularity. It may soon be drafted into the Olympics too. Do you see any legal hurdles for the further growth of E-sports?

Klaus: As long as E-Sports remains skill-based, I do not see any problems, these are normal events. Should it be possible to make the area Olympic, that would be a milestone, because the sport is regulated more favourably than the game. It could also be legally betted on the outcome of e-sports events, which is currently not possible. It is important to observe whether e-sports is not abused for illegal gambling, there is a certain danger I see, and this would put the entire new business sector in the wrong light.

Now the final question – a bit off-topic. You have had a chance to travel a lot owing to your official position. Could you please share some interesting experience during your travels?

Klaus: It is interesting for me to learn, for example in the Prague meetings, that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are wider than Austria in terms of realistic regulation of gambling. Unthinkable, for example, that official representatives of the Austrian Ministry of Finance would sit down with operators and ask: what can we do better? Our regulator always knows everything better on its own, even a public corporation like the Chamber of Commerce is only partially heard. Fascinating for me is in my travels, in what a short time Europe has grown together. You can really feel European today, and I do it with all my heart. I still experienced customs borders, the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain – an hour’s drive from Vienna. How far away is that today! And that’s good.


Source: EuropeanGaming.eu

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Phil Silver honoured by MPs for contributions to social responsibility

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Phil Silver honoured by MPs for contributions to social responsibilityReading Time: 2 minutes

Conservative Party MPs Sir Peter Bottomley and Rt Hon Nick Herbert attended a presentation to honour former Bacta Compliance Officer, Phil Silver and to mark his contribution to the development of a social responsibility culture in Britain’s adult gaming centres, seaside arcades and bingo clubs. Phil Silver received the Bacta Community Award at the presentation hosted by Esther O’Neill and Sarah Clarke of Worthing based Connaught Leisure.

Highlighting his work with social responsibility organisations including GamCare, the national provider of information and support for anyone affected by problem gambling and the Gordon Moody Association, the first charity in the UK dedicated to providing residential treatment to help problem gamblers, Bacta National President Gabi Stergides said: “In a career with Bacta spanning three decades Phil Silver has made what I would argue is the single biggest contribution to social responsibility in the low stake gaming industry. Thanks in no small part to Phil, Bacta was the first gaming industry body to work in partnership with GamCare and his contributions as a Trustee of the Gordon Moody Association have been invaluable. In his role as Bacta’s Compliance Officer he has assisted members implement the social responsibility commitments that are a requirement of being part of the trade association. His contribution to the development of an industry that upholds the highest standards of social responsibility cannot be underestimated.

Commenting on the industry recognition, Phil Silver said: “I am delighted to receive this award which marks the end of my long career with Bacta. Members of the trade association understand that it’s not enough to simply support social responsibility and customer protection, businesses have to demonstrate it. We have undertaken some pioneering work and I’m extremely proud that I was able to make a small contribution to the massive issue of social responsibility in gaming.

Reflecting on the presentation Bacta chief executive, John White said: “It was extremely generous of Nick Herbert and his fellow Sussex MP, Sir Peter Bottomley, to present Bacta’s Community Award to Phil Silver. Their attendance acknowledged Phil’s contribution to the amusement machine industry over a thirty year career and his support for problem and at risk gamblers via charities Gamcare and the Gordon Moody Association. I would personally like to thank Nick and Sir Peter for taking time out of their busy schedules in order to present this Award and to Esther and Sarah for hosting us at Connaught Leisure, the business that was created by the late Pat O’Neill who was a great friend to so many Bacta members. The presentation reflected the great importance that Bacta and its members place on social responsibility.

 

About bacta:
Bacta represents the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK, encompassing high-tech and creative manufacturers, machine suppliers for pubs, clubs and bingo halls, as well as operators of Family Entertainment Centres and over 18s Gaming Centres. Bacta members include the whole of the amusement machine supply chain in the UK, which has a collective turnover of nearly £2bn across more than 500 companies, operating in excess of 310,000 machines.


Source: EuropeanGaming.eu

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NetEnt’s Mega Fortune™ strikes again after lucky player wins €3.7m jackpot

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NetEnt’s Mega Fortune™ strikes again after lucky player wins €3.7m jackpotReading Time: 1 minute

NetEnt, leading provider of digital gaming solutions, has continued its jackpot hot-streak after another lucky player from Sweden dropped a massive win when €3,773,845.27 was collected while playing Mega Fortune™ on LeoVegas casino.

 

May 25th, 2018 – The winner from Sweden had staked just €4.80 before going on to take the €3.7m jackpot on NetEnt’s popular jackpot game Mega Fortune™ in early May.

This latest big win showcases that NetEnt continues to lead the way in jackpot games with a massive five millionaire-making jackpots dropping in 2018 alone, paying out an astonishing €19,799,183 so far this year.

Henrik Fagerlund, Chief Product Officer of NetEnt, said:The jackpots just keep on coming and we’re happy to see another player scoop a life-changing amount of money while playing our games.

At NetEnt, we thrive on providing moments like this for operators and players alike, and hope that our good luck continues as we head into the summer.

 

NetEnt AB (publ) is a leading digital entertainment company, providing premium gaming solutions to the world’s most successful online casino operators. Since its inception in 1996, NetEnt has been a true pioneer in driving the market with thrilling games powered by their cutting-edge platform. With innovation at its core, NetEnt is committed to helping customers stay ahead of the competition. NetEnt is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm (NET-B), employs 900 people and has offices in Stockholm, Malta, Kiev, Gothenburg, New Jersey, Krakow and Gibraltar. www.netent.com


Source: EuropeanGaming.eu

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IGT obtains long-term Norsk Tipping bingo supply deal

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IGT obtains long-term Norsk Tipping bingo supply dealReading Time: 1 minute

IGT Global Services will be the provider for Norway’s new online bingo solution in a recent deal made with Norsk Tipping AS.

The new deal comes after an already existing six-year business relationship between IGT and the state operator.
Norsk Tipping’s head of igaming and VLTs, Hans Erland, noted that the new online bingo solution would bring an enhanced digital offering to players and the proceeds would remain in Norway, being donated to support the arts, sport and cultural initiatives.

The contract provides for an online bingo solution in combination with online casino and instant win games. It is a five-year contract and includes provision for three two-year extension, potentially giving an overall 11-year relationship.

Norsk Tipping’s current digital bingo platform was provided by IGT in 2014. Its replacement is built on multi-channel HTML5 for desktop, tablet and mobile and offers 10 game variations.

Declan Harkin, senior vice-president and chief operating officer, international, at IGT, added: “This agreement enables Norsk Tipping, a leader in regulated digital gaming, to strengthen player acquisition and retention through IGT’s new online bingo solution, offered in combination with online casino and instant win games and available seamlessly in a single game window.

 

Source: intergameonline.com


Source: EuropeanGaming.eu

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