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Interview with Dr. Mag. Klaus Christian Vögl

Niji Ng

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Dr. Mag. Klaus Christian Vögl, the long-serving Managing Director of the Department of Leisure and Sports Facilities in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, offers here his lucid opinions on gambling and betting legislation in Austria. He not just talks about the nitty-gritty of legislation, but clearly implies where the new legislation could lead the betting industry to.

He is critical of Austria’s legislators and regulator. He says some of the legislators wantsimply to preserve and protect the acquis of monopoly companies (Austrian Lotteries, Casinos Austria)”. He talks positively about the way gambling legislation is changing in Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe.

There is much more. Read on for an enlightening interview with one of the foremost legal experts in Europe.

I’d first like to ask you to begin with a few words about yourself. It’s always nice to hear top-class professionals say a few words about themselves for our audience.

Klaus: I´m Managing Director of the Department of Leisure and Sports Facilities in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce since 1981. Our specialist group looks after around 40 different branches, from tourist guides to dance schools and sports companies to the gambling and betting sector. The companies in the gambling monopoly sector are members of another division of the Chamber. Here in Austria, we have a statutory compulsory membership of all commercial enterprises in the Chamber of Commerce, which is around 600,000.

 

Now on to betting laws in Austria. Protective can be a word used for the gambling legislation in the country. It is also somewhat unique in its distinction between betting and gambling. Your thoughts on this?

Klaus: The distinction made by the Austrian Federal Constitution is indeed special. Gambling is a federal matter and essentially regulated in a monopoly, sports betting is a matter of the state and governed by various different state laws. In the betting area, there is (still) a free market regulated under very strict conditions, apart from Vienna. In Vienna the competent authority, due to political decisions, almost does not issue licenses although we have a brand new state law.

 

The betting law varies from region to region in Austria. For instance, the betting law of Salzburg is different from that of Vienna. What about a uniform betting legislation throughout the country – like the gambling legislation?

Klaus: In fact, the current government program plans to transfer the betting system into federal competence. In principle, nothing would be objectionable. For the providers operating throughout Austria, it could even be a great advantage and a simplification. However, we fear that the legislator and the stakeholders behind it could establish a monopoly or oligopoly, in order to eliminate the free market. As was accomplished concerning slot machines before in 2012.

 There have been reports about new amendments in the betting and gambling legislation, ranging from IP blocking for online betting to the operation of biometric recognition in slot apparatus and setting up of a Competence Center. How are these legal amendments going to affect the betting industry in the country? Is it going to be stricter?

Klaus: We fear that the train will roll in the stricter direction. The planned changes in the gambling sector that you address are not yet affecting sports betting. Setting up biometric controls is not a problem for our industry in itself, even welcomed. What worries us most of all at the moment is the demonization of the betting terminals and, in Vienna in special, the legislators fight against betting exchange. Imagine: the whole country, the government and the whole of Europe is talking about digitization, and then we should get back to the bookmakers switch if possible. Whereas it anyway still exists.

Isn’t the conservative approach to betting and gambling legislation a hindrance to the growth of betting and gambling industry in the country?

Klaus: Absolutely, but that’s the political will of all political parties in Austria. The Chamber of Commerce is also in favour of strict framework conditions. The gambling and betting market does not have to grow at all, but it should be regulated in a consolidated way. This applies, for example, to the area of online gambling, which is totally ignored by our gambling law, or even online betting, for example, for which the Viennese authorities declare to be not responsible. Only in Salzburg you can apply for such a license concerning betting.

The gaming world has been witnessing a massive change with the introduction of new software platforms, crypto currencies and generally smarter operators. How is Austria’s law faring against the changes?

Klaus: Not at all, these areas are ignored and declared illegal by our regulator. The aim of the legislator is simply to preserve and protect the acquis of monopoly companies (Austrian Lotteries, Casinos Austria).

What are the major challenges facing the formulation of betting and gambling legislation as a whole? There is a thin line separating the need for protecting the society from gambling addiction and the need for allowing the industry to grow economically. How do the legislators negotiate this inherent conflict of interests?

Klaus: Legislators see, as far as private sector providers are concerned, exclusively the field of protection of players and minors. Economic considerations or argumentation with secure jobs go nowhere, and there is not even a willingness to talk in Vienna. In the federal states, the policy is sometimes more prudent. When, for example, in Vienna in 2014, the “small slot machine game” was turned off by the legislature, this brought many gastronomic businesses and of course also long-established vending machines companies in distress. We argued with a high number of jobs and a tax loss alone from the amusement tax of around 80 million Euros for the city of Vienna, per year. Then a politician in a leading medium said, “these jobs are worth nothing”. In such a view, unfortunately, every factual conversation is unnecessary. On the other hand, the protected monopoly sector is expected to grow, with regular sales and profit figures being published on a regular basis, pointing out the high social importance of gambling. That this is not EU-coherent, is evident.

 

What are the chances of realizing a unified betting law for Europe, at least for online gambling and betting? A legal equivalent of Euro, that is.

Klaus: The ball is clearly in the hands of the commission, which has been squandering on the “hot mush” for years. Even the Services Directive excluded the gambling sector. The chances are not good in the short term. In the medium term, the need to intervene regulatively cannot be ignored. We can only hope that this does not happen too restrictive, although with full respect for consumer protection, which is one of the declared main aims oft he EU.

 

On to a more general question now. E-sports are gaining more recognition and exponential popularity. It may soon be drafted into the Olympics too. Do you see any legal hurdles for the further growth of E-sports?

Klaus: As long as E-Sports remains skill-based, I do not see any problems, these are normal events. Should it be possible to make the area Olympic, that would be a milestone, because the sport is regulated more favourably than the game. It could also be legally betted on the outcome of e-sports events, which is currently not possible. It is important to observe whether e-sports is not abused for illegal gambling, there is a certain danger I see, and this would put the entire new business sector in the wrong light.

Now the final question – a bit off-topic. You have had a chance to travel a lot owing to your official position. Could you please share some interesting experience during your travels?

Klaus: It is interesting for me to learn, for example in the Prague meetings, that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are wider than Austria in terms of realistic regulation of gambling. Unthinkable, for example, that official representatives of the Austrian Ministry of Finance would sit down with operators and ask: what can we do better? Our regulator always knows everything better on its own, even a public corporation like the Chamber of Commerce is only partially heard. Fascinating for me is in my travels, in what a short time Europe has grown together. You can really feel European today, and I do it with all my heart. I still experienced customs borders, the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain – an hour’s drive from Vienna. How far away is that today! And that’s good.

Niji has been in the writing industry for well over a decade or so. He prides himself as one of the few survivors left in the world who have actually mastered the impossible art of copy editing. Niji graduated in Physics and obtained his Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism. He has always interested in sports writing and travel writing. He has written for numerous websites and his in-depth analytical articles top sports magazines like Cricket Today and Sports Today. Besides reporting industry headlines from all around the globe, Niji is also head of the content management team at Impressions Content Management, based in Kerala, India, which offers writing and editing services to clients around the world.

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Central Europe

Contrasting trends in 2017 Czech gaming market figures

Niji Ng

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Contrasting trends in 2017 Czech gaming market figures
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The 2017 Czech market figures were published last week, revealing some contrasting trends.

It was surprising to an overall minimal revenue gain in the gaming market, despite the strong rise in online gambling revenue of over 50 per cent.

Czech Ministry of Finance figures for 2017 indicated total revenues of CZK39.8b (US$1.77b), a gain of 1.1 per cent from 2016 in the face of overall spending on gambling rising 14.1 per cent to CZK224b.

The gains in online gaming nonetheless did not translate to overall gains for the Czech Republic, which began allowing and regulating iGaming in the country with the revision of the country’s gambling act in 2016.

The Online Contribution

The fact is online gambling jumped 56 per cent year-on-year to CZK8.3b ($370m), responsible for a contribution of more than one-fifth of the overall gaming market in the Czech Republic.

The vertical contributing most heavily was fixed-odds sports betting, which saw a total rise in 217 of nearly CZK1b to reach just short of CZK6.2b.

The next largest contributor on the pole for 2017 was online casino, which brought in just over CZK2b to the Czech market, with live casino third at a CZK120m contribution.

Online lotteries brought in CZK276m, compared to a decline in the contribution of land-based lotteries down CZK500m to CZK6.1b.

Conflicting Disincentive

The relative lack of gains from the overall sector may have to do in large part to some changes made in the Czech market structure that took effect January 1st of 2017. The updates imposed stiff taxes on foreign licensees, resulting in many operator withdrawals who were discouraged by new individual vertical taxes of 23 per cent on sports betting, and 35 per cent for slots, compounded by a 19 per cent corporate tax and further new restrictions on online bonus offers.

Outlook

The Czech government is claiming a healthy purge of up to 90 per cent of illegal operators, but if they want to keep this purge from claiming more legitimate licenced operators on the ledger, they will have to find a way to ease restrictions on foreign operators to add more revenues and streams to the overall till. Let’s hope the operators that began trickling back at the end of 2017 have found more hospitable conditions in 2018.

 

Source: onlinecasinoreports.com

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Central Europe

Yumicra Games could write a new chapter Polish gaming history

Niji Ng

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Yumicra Games could write a new chapter Polish gaming history
Reading Time: 2 minutes

An innovative new project by Yumicra Games, a company based in Czech Republic, could change the history of the Polish gaming machines market. Futura and Futura Eclipse, the world’s first gaming machines that do not have randomness in the software (including the pseudorandom number generator), are currently the only legal option for gaming operators in Poland.

Yumicra Games regularly supplies its products to Polish buyers who are eager to use the only option available on the market, meeting all legal requirements related to the amendment of the Act, approved on April 2017. Changes, eliminating gambling and non-intuitive solutions for the players, only for a few months blocked the private sector related to gaming machines, because at the end of the same year legal products from the Czech producer were distributed.

Currently, non-gambling Futura and Futura Eclipse machines are available to players throughout Poland, filling salons in almost every province, including several dozen small towns and most major cities, such as Gdańsk, Szczecin, Olsztyn, Bydgoszcz, Białystok, Poznań, Warsaw, Wrocław, Łódź, Kielce, Kraków and Rzeszów.

Futura and Futura Eclipse, due to their popularity among players, operators, as well as owners of arcades and casinos, have been continuously produced for several months and had become an integral part of the Polish entertainment industry. The favour of the recipients results from the quality of the products and the certificate base offered by Yumicra Games, which is systematically growing by further positions.

The project of Yumicra Games specialists from the very beginning assumed the introduction of transparent rules for both customers and final recipient, which is the player, who for the first time in the world can fully control the course of rivalry with “one-armed bandit” and assess their chances of winning. The legality of Futura and Futura Eclipse is the culmination of the effort undertaken by company representatives at the software planning stage and later, when implementing the finished product on the market; Futura and Futura Eclipse are completely deprived of the randomness element, even in unrelated moments of operating the machine – in their software there is no pseudo-random number generator or any other generator.

Yumicra Games as one of the few producers works directly in cooperation with clients – none of the partners has exclusivity, and the company is not represented by any proxy. Permanent contract conditions, unchangeable for each customer, translate into high quality of cooperation and have a measurable impact on investment stability.

The only effective option to rebuild the Polish gaming machines market, in particular the private sector, is, thanks to the efforts of Yumicra Games representatives, top-class professional gaming machines with legal software, wrapped in clear cooperation principles and the latest technology. Futura and Futura Eclipse are certainly the best thing that could happen to the Polish market at such a difficult time.

 

Source: e-playonline.com

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Central Europe

EGT launch T-Line roulette in Hungary

Niji Ng

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EGT launch T-Line roulette in Hungary
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EGT has launched its T-Line touch table live roulette multiplayer in Hungary. This is the first time this model is installed in the country.

The product features are impressive: 84ins display, six gaming stations, each with a touchscreen for placing the bets, and a 23ins monitor for the statistical information.

“The T-Line touch table roulettes are known for their ease of use, stand-out design and high-end technologies and have achieved good results in other countries,” said Csaba Pardi, sales manager at Demar Kft, which also cooperates with EGT in Austria, Poland, Sweden and Slovakia. “If the product shows strong local performance, it will most likely be installed in the operator’s second casino as well.”

Casino Win Győr has 850 square meters of game space, and is considered one of the most modern gaming establishments in North-West Hungary.

Previous EGT deliveries, performed again by Demar Kft, have been the 4-level progressive jackpot Cat 4 Cash, the bestselling worldwide P-24/24 Up, the ergonomic P-27/27 St Slim cabinet, the Super Premier model of two 4-inch curved monitors and the multi-games Premier Multi-4, -5, -6 and Red, Green, Orange Collection.

Before the T-Line series touch table the operator has had prior experience with the automated VEGA-R8 roulette with 8 gaming places – a product also known in other casinos in the country.

 

Source: interGameOnline

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