On Thursday, Oct 20th 2016, the annual bookmaker congress of the Austrian Bookmaker Association took place in Anif, Salzburg.
The Austrian Bookmaker Association is the official institution representing the bookmaker profession and their concerns and requests. Although PBS is not acting as a real sports betting Operator but a technology provider instead, we are still considered an extraordinary member of the Austrian Bookmaker Association.
At the annual congress the executive board of the Bookmaker Association informs its members about the important new regulations and drafts of regulations which may be legally consolidated.
The Bookmaker Association is about to experience a slight facelift in not to distant future. The current CEO, Dr. Grubmüller, will resign at the end of this year. However, he will stay with the Bookmaker Association as a legal advisor. A former professional football player with distinct and adequate knowledge of the whole sports betting branch, will become the new CEO. He is also one of the graduates from the Bookmaker Academy, an in-house training for future bookmakers. In order to become a professional bookmaker there are no specific legal requirements or mandatory trainings that one has to pass. It is currently more like a “learning by doing”-profession. In order to provide people who are interested to become a bookmaker with the most important tools and minimum standards, the bookmaker academy is the ideal training.
Another facelift will be the new homepage. At the moment the homepage is more for Association members than interested visitors. However, in times where a fancy and beautifully designed website can clearly make a huge difference, the Bookmaker Association is looking for a new and appealing way of presenting itself to the outside world of both bookmakers as well as interested punters.
New regulations – more restrictions!
Playtech BGT Sports customers are facing lots of new regulations which they have to align with. For everyone who is not aware of this: Regulation of sports betting is the responsibility of Austrian’s federal states. This means Austria has have nine different laws to align with, one per state. In the year 2015 the European Union passed the fourth EU money-laundering directive. The directive has to be implemented via law until June 26th 2017 at the latest. The implementation of the EU money-laundering directive is also used by some of the states to refresh the whole law on sports betting.
The title of the paragraph is “New regulations – more restrictions!” and this wording is pretty appropriate. For instance, in Vorarlberg the current regulation imposes a minimum distance of 100 metres between two betting shops. With implementing the EU money-laundering law a higher minimum distance is planned although it is not required by provisions of the EU. In the future, a Styrian bookmaker has to pay EUR 1,000.- per month for each operating Terminal. Carinthia and Burgenland also plan to introduce new regulations along with Salzburg, who intend to come up with the most restricting new law of all. Originally, Self-service Betting Terminals (SSBT) have been invented in order to avoid the necessity of a cashier who operates a Till. Salzburg’s new law contains the regulations that at every bet entry point at least one person in charge has to be on site on a permanent basis. This is likely to be a killer phrase for lots of Terminals in Salzburg.
In addition, SSBTs have the big advantage that punters stay anonymous throughout the process. The fourth EU money-laundering directive foresees that customers with more than EUR 2,000.- profit have to be identified. The new regulation is another contribution to make sports betting via SSBTs less attractive.
Last but not least, a new sports betting law came into force in Vienna on May 14th 2016. Besides the huge effort for Operators to obtain a valid license, there is now a special requirement to get a written evaluation for each and every Terminal conducted by technical experts in that field.
A dark future?
The above mentioned are only some of the many new restrictive laws in that area. There is a strong tendency towards more stringent regulation and the question remains if that is really a good thing!? In my personal opinion, this will lead into the wrong direction! Bookmakers might find it less attractive to work in this field, since they probably cannot cope with all the new regulations and money to spend before getting the business to run. The new laws are not a win-win-situation. Why? In other countries, where betting is strictly regulated, the black market is notably big. In the long term, the number of bookmakers will probably decrease in Austria, only the big ones will survive with no option to expand their business because it is difficult to get additional licences. On the other hand, the black market might thrive and punters will get criminalised and in many cases even outlawed if they play on the black market which might become more attractive due to over-regulation. I want to state that his is just one possible scenario (and certainly not the only possible one of course) but if legislation is aiming for more and more restriction it is quite likely that there might be undesirable economic consequences in one way or another…
What is your opinion about the topic?
I’d love getting some feedback from you – please write a comment or send an email!