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Austria's monopolistic approach to gaming is incompatible to EU law

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An EU Member State which reserves the operation of casinos exclusively to companies which have their seat in its territory is acting in a way which is incompatible with European Union Law, according to an Opinion of the European Court of Justice.

According to the Court's Advocate General Mazák, the Austrian national legislation allows for a  'State monopoly’ to occur over games of chance and provides that the right to organise and operate games of chance is in principle reserved to the State. 

That being so, the Federal Minister for Finance may, by issuing licences, grant operators the right to organise and operate those games of chance under the monopoly (namely, lotteries, electronic draws and gaming establishments).

In his Opinion, delivered 1 March 2010, Advocate General Ján Mazák considered, first, that the Austrian legislation which reserves the operation of games of chance in gaming establishments exclusively to limited companies which have their seat in Austrian territory is incompatible with freedom of establishment.

Mr Mazák considered  that freedom to provide services precludes the Austrian provision under which all licences to operate games of chance and gaming establishments are granted on the basis of rules which exclude from tendering procedures candidates from the Community who do not possess Austrian nationality.

As such, the legal infrastructure in Austria does dot allow the running of the gaming of chance industry (gambling) in accordance with core EU provisions. 

Advocate General's Opinion - Full text


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