Connect with us

News

Interview with Dr. Mag. Klaus Christian Vögl

Published

on

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.

Question  

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.

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.

 

Question

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?

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.

 

Question

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?

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.

 

Question

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?

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.

 

Question

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

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.

 

Question

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?

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).

Question

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?

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.

 

Question

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.

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.

 

Question

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?

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.

Question

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?

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: European Gaming Media and Events

News

Google to Help Russia Block Online Gaming Sites

Published

on

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

As a country, Russia has some of the strictest guidelines in the world for the regulation of access to online casino sites. Any online gambling sites that are unwilling to comply with the licensing regulations set forth by the Russian government will not be given access to Russian players. Currently, major sites like 888, Bet365, Betfair, Betfred, Ladbrokes, Unibet and William Hill are all blocked.

To enforce its policies, the Russian government has enlisted the services of telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor. As part of that company’s strategy to keep unwanted online casino operators from having access to Russian players, the company is continually putting pressure on worldwide search engine Google to use its filters to block said sites from being listed within Russia’s domain. To date, Roskomnadzor has blocked as many as 14,500 sites without any assistance from the search engine giant. Many of these sites are currently listed at www.choicecasinos.com.

In what industry experts call a surprise move, Google has finally relented and decided to help the Russian regulator do its job of blocking unlicensed websites from popping up on any search results related to online gambling. The move came after Google was assessed a $7,500 fine for not complying with prior requests for help. It’s interesting to note the size of this fine is well below the maximum amount that could have been assessed based on Russian guidelines.

This surprise move comes outside the scope of the normal mode of operation for Google. The company has always been far more likely to refuse to pay said fines and instead, seek relief from the appropriate court system. While the size of this fine might seem irrelevant to a company Google’s size and stature, it’s the cowering to foreign governments that have always spurred Google to fight back. Then again, Google may have decided to comply at this time because of recent threats by the Russian government to assess fines of up to 1% of annual gross revenues on tech giants who ignore its ruling. In Google’s case, that amount would have been around $6.4 million, based on its earnings in Russia in 2017 and probably high in 2018.

When asked why he felt Google agreed without pushback, Doskomnadzor’s deputy chief Vadim Subbotin stated, “If we come to a dead end … the state makes changes to the law, and for the non-execution of Russian laws the most severe punishment is possible – such as blocking.” It would be unfathomable to think that a company with Google’s stature would be blocked from operating in any industrial country.

Going forward, Russia’s federal state information system (FGIS) will be charged with making sure Google does as requested and blocks any unwanted online gambling sites from appearing. The FGIS provides a database of all known gambling sites that can be automatically cross-referenced to anything that might show up in relevant search results.

There is a possibility this could set precedent. It will be interesting to see if other countries might try to use similar tactics to try to strong-arm Google into blocking various search results as requested.


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Google to Help Russia Block Online Gaming Sites

Continue Reading

News

Big Win at Svenbet on Wazdan’s Great Book of Magic Deluxe

Published

on

Big Win at Svenbet on Wazdan's Great Book of Magic DeluxeReading Time: 2 minutes

 

Last week one lucky player secured €90,775.02 in total winnings following a streak of wins playing Wazdan’s Great Book of Magic Deluxe at Svenbet’s online casino.

Svenbet offers a diverse portfolio of casino and live casino games, virtual sports betting, skilled games and pool betting. They cherry-pick only the best gaming providers to bring players a selection of seamless online and mobile experiences.

In what was sure to have been a thrilling day for the fortunate customer on the Svenbet site, there was not just one big win, but a variety of smaller wins that made up the final pot. Nail biting highlights of the triumphs included a €26,125 win during the bonus game with one bet of €100, not one but two €25,000 wins with bets of €100, a €23,500 win during the bonus game with one bet of €100, and a €19,825 win during the bonus game with one bet of €100.

Taking advantage of Unique Wazdan Features, the player opted to spin the reels in Ultra Fast Mode and change the Volatility Levels™ throughout the gameplay. Wins were hit on both Standard and High Volatility Levels™, with the player taking home a massive €90,775.02 at the end of the day.

The game in the spotlight, Great Book of Magic Deluxe slot is a Wazdan favourite featuring five reels, 20 pay-lines and a variety of special symbols, including Free-Spins-awarding Scatters and Expanding Bonus Symbols. In addition to the Unique Wazdan Features of Ultra Fast Mode and Volatility Levels™ that were used in the player’s recent win, Great Book of Magic Deluxe also offers the Unique Wazdan Features of, Double Screen Mode, Unique Gamble Feature and Energy Saving Mode.

Regarding the momentous win, Head of Sales at Wazdan, Andrzej Hyla, says: “We are beyond thrilled to see a player win such a significant amount playing one of our beloved games, Great Book of Magic Deluxe. This game is a favourite among both players and operators, and we are really happy to see that the player’s dedication to spinning on Great Book of Magic Deluxe played off generously for them. As we have been expanding significantly of late, we look forward to more games being played and announcing even more of these exciting wins in the future.”

For further information visit www.wazdan.com

 

ABOUT WAZDAN:
Wazdan is a popular game producer, developing innovative casino games that deliver an original, fun and truly omni-channel player experience. Offering an extensive game library of over 105 HLML5 slots, table games and video poker games, Wazdan is gaining popularity in the iGaming market thanks to the great quality of their games, interesting themes and engaging gameplay. Wazdan’s game portfolio consists of popular titles Great Book of Magic Deluxe, Magic Target Deluxe, Valhalla and Wild Guns as well as amazing new slot games including Los Muertos™, Mayan Ritual™ and Captain Flynt™ amongst others. Wazdan releases new, exciting titles on a regular basis and equips them with Unique Wazdan Features: innovative Volatility Level™, exciting Unique Gamble Feature and mobile-friendly Energy Saving and Double Screen Modes. Wazdan holds a number of European trademarks including a trademark for their world’s-first Volatility Level™. Their extensive portfolio of clients includes some of the top gaming operations in the industry. The company is headquartered in Malta and holds licenses issued by the UKGC, the MGA and complies with Curacao regulations. Furthermore, their games use the RNG certified by the NMi, which ensures reliable, fair and secure gameplay. Wazdan’s Sales team is showcasing their products at ICE in London from 5-7 February 2019 on stand S8 202.


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Big Win at Svenbet on Wazdan’s Great Book of Magic Deluxe

Continue Reading

News

AskGamblers Awards 2019 Winners Have Been Announced

Published

on

AskGamblers Awards 2019 Winners Have Been AnnouncedReading Time: 2 minutes

 

After more than 3 months of the voting phase, AskGamblers Awards 2019 finally have their winners! The AskGamblers Awards 2019 ceremony took place on the 17th of January 2019, in Hyatt Regency in Belgrade.

 

The AskGamblers Awards 2019 winners have been announced at the crowning gala event, that took place yesterday, January 17th, 2019, in Hyatt Recency hotel in Belgrade, Serbia. AffiliateINSIDER was the AskGamblers’ official media partner and the ceremony was attended by the AskGamblers Awards team members, the finalists, and the key stakeholders from Catena Media office, from Malta.

There were 10 final contenders in each of the categories: Best Casino, Best New Casino, Player’s Choice, Best Partner, as well as the Best Slot released in the year 2018. Altogether, there were 8 software suppliers nominated in the Best Game Provider category. Now, without a further ado, here’s an entire list of the AskGamblers Awards 2019 Winners:

• Best New Casino: Campeonbet Casino

• Best Casino: Betsson Casino

• Player’s Choice: BitStarz Casino

• Best Partner: 7Stars Partners

• Best Slot: Legacy of Egypt by Play’n GO

• Best Game Provider: NetEnt

Denis Ristic, AskGamblers Product Owner, shared the excitement: “We are very proud that the AskGamblers Awards event is getting bigger and better. It’s only the second year and we are already noticing that the Awards have made an impact on our regular users, while reaching new players and creating a real buzz in the world of online casinos.

The event itself is a great opportunity for us to meet with our dear colleagues and partners from the iGaming industry sector and we look forward to seeing how the AskGamblers Awards will progress in the future. Once again, we would like to congratulate all the winners and thank all the players who took the time to vote and help us single out the best candidates!”

To find out more about the AskGamblers Awards 2019 ceremony and the winners, feel free to visit the AskGamblres Awards website anytime.

 

About AskGamblers:

AskGamblers, officially the Best Casino Website in 2016 and 2017, provides the most trusted, unbiased online casino, slot, and bonus reviews. It also features real player opinions and ratings highly valuable in the iGaming community. Thanks to its unique Casino Complaint Service, over $20 million has been returned to players thus far. Get the truth, then play!


Source: European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: AskGamblers Awards 2019 Winners Have Been Announced

Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: