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IBIA assesses Lower Austria’s betting regulations

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IBIA criticised the rules as it considers that they would make the local market unattractive.

The association has assessed the regulations submitted by Lower Austria to the European Commission and said that they’re unattractive.

Austria.- The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) has submitted a response to the betting regulations that Lower Austria presented to the European Commission (EC). IBIA also sent its response to the EC and criticised the rules as it considers that they would make the local market unattractive.

IBIA said that it welcomes Lower Austria’s decision to license retail and online betting. However, the association says it has concerns regarding the effectiveness and the underlining reasoning and impact of the proposals. IBIA believes that they would restrict consumers from engaging in — and licensed operators from offering — limiting online betting licences to a maximum of two years, as well as restricting consumers to a €350 maximum stake per bet. It also mentions a ban on many sports betting products.

The association said that the framework is unattractive for long-term business investment, operational activities and planning to have such a short restriction on the life of an online betting licence.

Lower Austrian authorities argued that the online market suffers fast-paced changes and an approval of ten years would not take into consideration developments. IBIA responded to this in its arguments to the EC by saying that the differentiation between the licensing durations for retail and online betting is unwarranted and discriminatory. “There is no reason why a licensing system for online betting cannot be flexible and amendable,” IBIA said.

The maximum stake limit

In regards to the maximum stake per bet, IBIA said that “there does not appear to be any clear rationale for this limitation.” It considers it to be an arbitrary and unevidenced restriction. “Many countries around Europe, such as the UK and Denmark, offer betting markets without such consumer and trade restrictions and do not suffer from increased levels of addiction as a result,” it said.

Live betting restrictions

“There is no validity to assertions that potential addiction associated with live betting is greater than other forms of betting. Nor any reason, if that was the case (which is unproven), why less restrictive mitigating provisions could not be included in the draft legislation to adequately cater for such potential addiction concerns,” said the association.

“Removing the attractiveness of the offshore market and thereby increasing consumer oversight must be a key objective of any effective regulatory structure for gambling. However, the proposed approach of prohibiting live betting markets will prove counterproductive to achieving that aim.”

Furthermore, IBIA told the EC that the Lower Austrian authorities have not provided any evidence that would justify such measures which will have a detrimental impact on the market and the level of consumer channelling. “The association, therefore, requests that the Commission explore the appropriateness and compatibility of these unjustified product limitations and the related restriction of trade imposed on licensed betting operators and Austrian consumers in accordance with EU law,” said IBIA.

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