Austria has joined Sweden as one of the only two governments currently offering a state-run online poker room with the launch of its new poker site at win2day.at. The Austrian room, which went live yesterday, was developed with the assistance of the other current state-run room in existence, Sweden's Svenska Spel.
The new Austrian state site runs on the Boss Media network and began taking registrations yesterday morning, both for real-money play and four special €5,000 introductory freerolls available to Austrian citizens, an ad for which was prominently displayed on the site's front page.
The online site also offers an extensive selection of lottery and casino games, all served up under the auspices of Österreichische Lotterien GmbH, the official Austrian lottery, along with Casinos Austria, the other government agency authorized to offer online games of chance, and itself a majority owner in Österreichische Lotterien. Casinos Austria also advertises its land-based poker options on the site, including an upcoming 2008 Austrian poker tour. The site also includes how-to videos and other instructional offerings and upsells the game of poker, with early indications showing strong opening-day registration; well over 2,000 live players were noted as active on the site within 24 hours of its grand opening.
Worth watching in future months will be the Austrian government's attitude toward privately run gaming companies, such as Bwin, which is one of Europe's largest brands and is itself incorporated in Austria. Attempts to make win2day.at into an online monopoly for the Austrian market would run the risk of drawing European Union ire, as has happened recently with Sweden.