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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.

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

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EGT Interactive – new game release in dice family

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EGT Interactive - new game release in dice familyReading Time: 1 minute

 

Autumn is here again! In all its shine, with all the warmth nuances of the colors and that divine aroma that touch the senses, with that expectation for something new.

This October, following that mood, EGT Interactive is happy to announce that another member in its dice games family is already live – Imperial Dice.

Just like its origin (Imperial Wars) this multiline slot is with conquering taste. But all the symbols are like dices! Their variety in this lavish 5-reel, 20-line game is full and quickly lead to high paying wins. The slot consists of 12 cards – 1 of which is Wild, 1 is Extra Spin and 1 is Scatter. Free spins and a four-level mystery Jackpot are featured too. Available on Desktop.

 

About EGT Interactive:
EGT Interactive is a Bulgaria-based gaming provider that brings the 15 years of experience of the EGT’s land-based casino slots to the world of online casino games. The company is growing rapidly through constant innovation, consumer-centric approach and top-notch support. Every single aspect of the company’s products is designed in line with the customer needs. The EGT games are based on an attractive Return-to-Player (RTP) strategy, which has proven to increase the player lifetime value.

 


Source: European Gaming Media

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FeedConstruct revolutionizes live scouting with AJNA

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FeedConstruct revolutionizes live scouting with AJNAReading Time: 2 minutes

 

 The data feed solutions provider of BetConstruct presented a more refined and accurate solution for data scouting.

 

Contemplating the ways of providing sporting data in a faster and more efficient manner, the company developed a feed solution enhanced with AI/ML called AJNA which was unveiled at Sportel Monaco. Translated as a third eye, it is an augmented live video streaming which recognizes gameflow of the sporting events, providing advanced player tracking in live mode and collecting more technical data to create new unique markets to bet on.

“Machine learning penetrates IT sectors and as a forward-looking company, we seek the ways to infuse our solutions with methods of automated data analysis. The concept of our solution bares its roots for Hindu tradition, the third-eye chakra called AJNA specifically. The on-field observation of a scout provides rather accurate data, whereas the augmented streaming reveals insights to the gameflow that a human eye can’t see. With AJNA, we enrich our sports betting offering with additional augmentation and a more statistical data gathered.” – commented our Founder and CEO Vigen Badalyan.

The solution consists of a single or double camera setup. As they deliver the streaming, AJNA solution does an auto field geometry detection from the video. Within a few minutes, the powerful eye of FeedConstruct identifies field scheme and corners having video frames transformed and sent to the tracking system one by one. Right after, players and ball detection comes into force. AJNA does a custom clusterization on sequences of images for each detected player in order to classify them to a team or referee group. During the match, AJNA recognizes full gameflow including events like ball possession, danger and many more. It also offers an extended personal tracking like player’s speed or distance run per game. Such collected statistics can be converted into a number of exciting markets to bet on.

As for now, FeedConstruct has developed AJNA to provide a full live on-field coverage of football with a further intention to expand the coverage for more sports types.

 

FeedConstruct is a digital content provider offering real-time data feed solutions perfectly tailored to capture and entertain any audience. Among our solutions is

Friendship platform, an exclusive offer for federations and sports content providers allowing them to deliver streamings from events to 300+ betting operators to purchase. FeedConstruct’s Live Scouts’ reporting combines fast and secure communications to provide accurate and reliable information. Based on our scouts’ reporting, we also provide highly efficient Odds Feed service. For a wide variety of sports data we have Statistics service. To perfectly engage any audience, we provide Live Sports Video Streaming service.


Source: European Gaming Media

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Sportradar releases official response to Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis

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Sportradar releases official response to Independent Review of Integrity in TennisReading Time: 3 minutes

 

Sportradar, the world’s leading provider of data, content and integrity solutions, has published its response to the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis report, released in April this year, which proposed recommendations for addressing the sport’s integrity issues.

 

Within the response, Sportradar has supported the majority of the Panel’s recommendations but outlined concerns in relation to the recommendation regarding the discontinuance of data sales, stating that this approach would not only fail in practice but would cause further risk to the integrity of the game, with potentially irreversible consequences.

Sportradar Managing Director Group Operations, David Lampitt explained the factors outlined within the company’s response.

“Attempting a total data black-out on a sport has never been done, or even trialed or tested before. Counter evidence and expert analysis indicate that such an approach is likely to have a harmful effect on integrity, which would be hard to reverse if unsuccessful.

“So, the Panel is staking its reputation, and that of the sport, on an uncertain ‘guess’, when there is good evidence that a different approach and an incremental process of implementing enhanced and targeted measures would be more likely to deliver successful outcomes and integrity benefits.

“If the recommendations remain unchanged, they would push the betting market underground where the integrity issues would be out of sight. This may give the veneer of improving the situation but would not deal with the underlying issues. These must not be brushed under the carpet.

“It’s important to point out that the relative risk that the Review attributes to the different levels of tennis is also misleading. In 2017, and consistently over the last four years, ITF tennis has, in fact, had the lowest risk of corruption across all the levels of the professional game, including the Grand Slams.

“Of course, integrity risks exist across all levels. But they are most prevalent at the mid-level of the Men’s game, so the rationale for applying the most draconian measures to the ITF Men’s and Women’scompetitions and recommending relatively modest changes at the other levels doesn’t tally with the evidence.

“Ultimately our interests, like the Panel’s and other stakeholders involved, including the tennis governing bodies as well as the betting companies, are focused on safeguarding a clean sport. We want to be transparent about our submissions as we believe the evidence is important to ensure decisions are not taken that may have unintended and harmful consequences for the sport.”

Sportradar’s recommendations outlined within the response to the Review include:

  1. Implement a proactive tennis-wide approach to restricting data distribution, targeting specific matches with an elevated risk of corrupt activity based on a consistent and analysis-led evaluation. This is something that Sportradar is doing as part of their integrity partnership with the ITF
  2. Create a new body made up of representatives from tennis, betting operators and sports data companies to ensure a more concerted and collective approach to fighting corruption in tennis across related operational areas that should include the application of the above targeted data restrictions
  3. Increase AV streaming coverage, where possible, to help provide reliable evidence
  4. Create new regulations to enable quicker sanctioning based on betting data and expert player analysis
  5. Bring in targeted measures to deal with online abuse of players, especially at lower levels, enabling players to escalate concerns
  6. Use technology to target risks, streamline processes, maximise impact and enhance intelligence-led enforcement action

The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis was released on 25 April this year after the tennis international governing bodies, the ATP, the WTA, the ITF and the Grand Slam Board appointed an Independent Review Panel to address betting related and other integrity issues facing the sport in early 2016.

Sportradar’s official response to the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis is available in full here.


Source: European Gaming Media

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