Austrian Association For Betting And Gambling Raises I.S.P. Blocking Concerns

Ministry for the Interior’s proposals regarding ISP blocking raises hackles

The trade body Austrian Association for Betting and Gaming has raised concerns around a Ministry for the Interior proposal that ISP companies be given authority to block websites they believe are indulging in criminal activity, noting that although online gambling is not specifically mentioned it could be targeted by such an amendment to existing laws.

The proposal envisages amendments to existing national telecommunications legislation granting powers to internet service providers to introduce “traffic management measures” on targets they believe warrant such action, and the duration of such blocks.

The Association, formed last year, has called for a dismantling of the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries monopolies in the interests of a fair, open and competitive online gambling market, the modernisation of gambling laws and a harmonisation of gambling revenue tax.

However there appears to be little political appetite for such changes to the status quo, despite pressure from the Association and international courts.

The local monopoly enjoyed by Casinos Austria online subsidiary WinADay could potentially benefit if government allowed ISPs to block the websites of unlicensed rivals; the government has blocked attempts by companies in other EU member countries to licence in Austria.

Thus far such bans have not been imposed, perhaps due to the threat of litigation and legal pressure from the international courts and the European Commission.