European Court of Justice Criticises Austrian Gambling Legislation

Published May 7, 2014

European Court of Justice Criticises Austrian Gambling Legislation

In a recent declaration, the Court of Justice of the European Union has stated that there is a lack of consistency in the application of gambling legislation in Austria, and that it is therefore in breach of EU rules.

Following a court case in November 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has just ruled that Austria is in breach of EU law. The November declaration states that member countries must apply their own gambling laws consistently, and be able to provide evidence of this, but that Austria was doing neither.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is written into EU law is designed to protect the public interest by ensuring that laws are applied the same way all the time, but in the first case where it has been applied to gambling, Austria was confirmed as having legislation inconsistent with this.

It was decided that the restrictive system used there was not actually being applied for it's intended purpose of protecting gamblers and fighting crime, but instead was primarily concerned with raising revenues for the state. The CJEU further declared that when a restrictive system was in place regarding games of chance, any operator infringing that system cannot be penalised, a practice which works against the players. 

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed the decision, with Secretary General Maarten Haijer stating that the ruling confirms that the gambling legislation of member states should be consistent, and that the CJEU was right to launch a formal investigation into the laws of Austria and five other member states.

This isn't the first time that Austrian gambling laws have been challenged, and the EGBA is awaiting a response from the Austrian State, while encouraging the CJEU to continue taking further steps to strengthen the rules and ensure that they are applied consistently across the whole of the European Union.

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