Europe’s complicated relationship with online gambling monopolies reached a new stage as Austria’s Supreme Court (OGH) asked for a revision of the entire national gambling legislation.
As online portal derStandard.at reported, the court's decision came after the unusual case of an online gambler who sued a casino room trying to get his losses back.
The player, whose identity was not revealed, decided to take legal action against a casino room after losing over €1,000,000 playing online roulette games. His decision is based on the fact that, as the casino operated in conflict with Austria’s monopoly on gambling, all its operations were conducted illegally.
While the first two instances of the court case supported the player’s action, Austria’s Supreme Court decided to overrule the previous verdicts and somehow accept the defense of the casino room, which claimed that the national gambling law established in Austria was a monopoly against European treaties on the free movement of services.
After an examination of the verdicts from the two first instances and the European regulation on services and gambling, the Supreme Court decided to send the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for further evaluations.
Should the ECJ decide to reject players' requests and endorse the idea of gambling monopolies being against European rules, the court case would have major consequences outside Austria’s borders, as already on November 20, 2013, the European Commission sent Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply of gambling services.
What is unclear, however, is what would happen if the ECJ will decide in favor of the player’s requests and rule against the casino. If on one side this would in fact legitimate the existence of a gambling monopoly in Austria as in other European countries, it could trigger a legal battle between European players and international operators of unseen proportions.
Lead photo courtesy of ogh.gv.at.