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Vienna in-play betting ban moves closer as bill submitted to city council

The Austrian capital of Vienna has moved closer to enforcing a ban on live betting, with new legislation submitted to the City Council for approval.

The new law, the Act on the Conclusion and Brokerage of Bets (also known as the Vienna Betting Act), sets out a number of key controls for gambling in Vienna, replacing previous legislation that passed in 1919.

It brings in strict penalties to combat unlicensed betting shops and stricter operating requirements for licensed companies.

The law has already been approved by the European Commission, after it was passed to the body for approval in November last year.

Under the new legislation operators will be required to implement stricter requirements such as credit checks, criminal record checks and implement an early warning system to identify addictive betting patterns.

Individual gaming machines in venues such as petrol stations or catering establishments will only be able to allow players to bet up to €50, and will not be allowed to use credit cards to make deposits. Betting terminals will also be taxed at a base rate of €350 per machine.

Only those over the age of 18 will be allowed to bet, while customers will also be able to exclude themselves from playing voluntarily.

Operators must also train employees in dealing with gambling addiction, with companies threatened with having their licences revoked should they fail to comply with these conditions.

In-play betting will also be banned, with the only bets allowed to be placed during the course of a match on the final and half-time result, with bets described as “fraud-prone” such as next yellow card or next corner no longer permitted.

City councillor Ulli Sima described the new law as a “milestone” for the city.

“We want to put a stop to breaches of the [gambling] laws and protect the people of Vienna,” she explained. “The new law replaces the outdated legislation from 1919, brings in strict procedures against illegal betting and strict penalties for violations.”

Sima explained that since small stakes gambling was banned in January 2015 there had been a shift to sports betting. As a result new betting shops “sprouted like mushrooms out of the ground,” she said.

Vienna has already taken steps to tackle the issue, with fines of up to €22,000 and venue closures in summer last year. Regular checks and investigations were carried out, with 85 venues checked, and 6 closed, with 254 betting terminals confiscated. The Vienna Betting Act is the next step, Sima said.

“I am convinced that such laws will have beneficial effects,” she said. “The recent developments are encouraging; entire streets are changing because instead of betting outlets shops and restaurants are popping up.

“The residents of our neighbourhoods are benefitting from this development and will continue to do so.”

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