OVWG Annual Report 2020
When we subtitled the 2019 activity report “An exciting year in Austria”, nobody expected that 2020 would bring a new dimension of excitement. Only three months later, after we had published our last annual report, Austria was in lockdown. The first lockdown from mid-March to the beginning of May brought public life to a complete standstill, with the result that the entire sports world – and with it the sports betting sector – came to a standstill. After short-term openings over the summer, a second lockdown was implemented at the end of November in response to the increasing infection numbers. In contrast to the first lockdown, this time professional sport was permitted to take place – albeit without an audience. However, the land-based gambling and betting operators had to close their shops once again.
For this reason, the “Kurz II” government, a coalition of the New People’s Party (ÖVP, conservative) and the Green Party (left-wing), which was sworn in on 7 January 2020, has been busy managing the health crisis almost from the start. As a result, many regulatory projects were postponed. Nevertheless, 2020 was an eventful year for the gambling and sports betting industry in Austria: From the committee of inquiry around the appointment of Peter Sidlo as CFO of Casinos Austria and accusations of bribery against Novomatic, to the takeover of majority ownership of the monopolist by the Czech Sazka Group and to the monopolist’s economic difficulties.
All these events show us once again that our demands for a transparent gambling regulation in conformity with European law are not only correct, but also urgently needed. Only a transparent, modern new regulation of gambling and betting in line with European law can bring added value to Austria and guarantee high standards of player protection. In 2019, online gambling operators with an EU licence paid 123 million euros in gambling tax in Austria, invested 100 million euros in the Austrian sports and media landscape and provided 1000 highly qualified jobs.
In recent years, the OVWG has succeeded in becoming a key contact point in the Austrian gambling and sports betting sector. This is, of course, owed not least to the commitment of our members, who not only repeatedly demonstrate their sense of responsibility in their field of business, but also understand that the targeted representation of interests is of utmost importance. On the following pages we summarised our activities of the past year for you once again.
Enjoy reading and a happy and above all healthy new year 2021!