Bet-at-home has said it will close its online casino offering to Austrian customers due to the risk of legal action over losses on the unlicensed market.
Austria.- Bet-at-home has decided to leave the Austrian market due to a lawsuit brought by a number of players who are seeking refunds of gambling losses incurred with unlicensed operators. The company said that although it expected a positive outcome in the case eventually, it could take a long time to resolve.
It said: “Although the bet-at-home.com AG Group also assumes that its actions are lawful under European law and that the lawsuits are also inadmissible under civil law, the continuation of the online casino offering in Austria before final legal clarification over a period of time that is currently no longer foreseeable would lead to a steadily increasing risk potential that appears indefensible overall.”
It expects that it may have to pay back 40 per cent of customer losses depending on what Austrian tax authorities decide. The company has lowered its revenue forecast from €100m-€110m to €93m-€98m. It expects an EBITDA loss of between €10m and €14m due to €24.6m in expenses as a result of the Austrian lawsuits.
Amendments to Austria’s Gaming Act in 2011 allowed the creation of a monopoly on online gaming, which was given to Österreichische Lotterien (Austrian Lotteries), then owner of Casinos Austria. In February, Austria announced the creation of a new gambling authority that would draw up a blacklist of unlicensed operators.
Bet-at-home said: “The bet-at-home.com AG Group still considers the online casino monopoly of the national Austrian gambling regulation to be contrary to European law and accordingly considers itself to be a lawful online casino provider in Austria.”
It added: “The decision on any resumption of the online casino offering in Austria will be made in the future depending on the development of the legal framework.”