The Finance Minister for Austria, Gernot Blumel (pictured), has reportedly announced that the government soon intends to introduce a series of wide-ranging reforms to the nation’s gambling market that could involve the establishment of a new all-encompassing regulatory authority.
According to a Wednesday report from iGamingBusiness.com, the revelation comes after the politician from the center-right Austrian People’s Party last year called for the country’s rules on gambling to be ‘untangled’ with enforcement and licensing duties taken out of the hands of the Federal Ministry of Finance. The source detailed that the proposed overhaul is also being played out even as Blumel and a number of his colleagues are embroiled in a scandal involving the alleged illicit funding of their campaigns by European gaming machines giant Novomatic AG.
Blumel reportedly explained that the planned refurb will be designed to prioritize player protections and require the envisioned new authority to establish a national self-exclusion scheme for both land-based and online gambling services. He purportedly pronounced that this regulator could also be asked to accelerate enforcement activities against illicit operators, create a ‘blacklist’ of unlicensed online gambling domains and compel local Internet service providers to block access to such designated sites.
The 39-year-old politician reportedly stated that the coming overhaul could furthermore see the country follow Belgium in implementing a complete ban on so-called ‘loot boxes,’ which he described as being particularly dangerous to younger gamers because they often lead such individuals into exploring more traditional forms of gambling.
The Vienna-born minister purportedly proclaimed that Austria will additionally be looking to replicate the regulatory model of Germany by introducing monthly iGaming deposit limits as well as mandatory stake and time constraints in consultation with a team of gambling addiction experts. He reportedly stated that the government also hopes to bring in a new slate of tax regulations that will be designed to ensure operators adequately fund a range of state-backed problem gambling programs.
As if all of this wasn’t enough and Blumel reportedly divulged that the government moreover intends to introduce a raft of fresh advertising controls that are to treat gambling similar to tobacco while simultaneously launching new anti-corruption safeguards to ban gambling firms from contributing to political parties or their representatives in any way.
Finally, the minister reportedly declared that the government similarly hopes to abolish all federal video lottery terminals (VLTs) licences in preference to state-based certifications while scrapping a plan to authorize a trio of new land-based casinos.
As to when all of this could come into effect and Blumel reportedly divulged that the Austrian government hopes to have finalized its plans on the shake-up before the end of April in hopes of being able to put its entire program before parliamentarians in the autumn.