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Austria – Casinos Austria defends position on advertising following OVWG report

By - 15 February 2021

The Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG) has presented reports that claim the Casinos Austria group is doing too much advertising, a point the state-owned group rejects.

The study by journalism professor Jörg Matthes and other researchers from the University of Vienna, examined the impact of Casinos Austria/lottery advertising on consumers from 2009 to 2017; a follow-up study examined the 2018/19 period. The analysis showed ‘that all advertising effects on attitudes and the game intention occur independently of the gaming behaviour of the recipients.’

In the study, the University of Vienna comes to the conclusion that the current advertising activities of the Austrian gambling monopolists create a strong incentive to gamble through various strategies. This influences recipients – regardless of whether they regularly participate in gambling or not – in their attitudes and intentions to act and entices them to gamble. It highlighted that there were two incentives created by advertising that had a particularly strong effect including advertising along the lines of ‘Gambling makes you happy’ and ‘Gambling makes you rich.’

“In general, it can be said that the representation of wealth and the representation of wish fulfilment trigger the recipient’s wish to participate in gambling,” the authors said. “The analysis shows that all advertising effects on attitudes and gambling intentions occur independently of the gambling behaviour of the recipients. It concludes that advertising affects infrequent or regular gamblers in the same way compared to those who do not gamble.”

The fact that this is also legally relevant is shown by a second expert opinion on the “Compatibility of the advertising strategy of the Austrian gambling monopolists with European Union law” from the University of Munich. They claim that the advertising strategies examined by the University of Vienna are highly problematic with regard to the ECJ requirements, and that the ‘gambling makes you rich’ advertising strategy in particular is blatantly contrary to EU law. Since the entire gambling advertising examined also addresses potential new customers and is therefore aimed at expanding the customer base, it also fails to achieve the objective approved by the ECJ of channelling the already existing gambling impulse.

Casinos Austria stated: “The advertising and marketing expenses of Casinos Austria AG and the Austrian Lotteries Group fell by 14.22 per cent between 2005 and 2019. Our group, as the only licensed online gaming provider in Austria, is obliged to provide adequate advertising in order to make a contribution to channelling gaming into a legal offering. Despite numerous expert reports, all Austrian supreme courts have established that both the Austrian legal situation and the practice of the concessionaires comply with the requirements of EU law. In countless legal proceedings, it is the online gaming providers without a license who violate the law.”

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