Austria – Concord closes its last venue as Austrian authorities crack down on pokerBy Phil - 10 February 2020
The end of January saw the closure of Concord Card Casinos which have been offering professional poker games at twelve locations in Austria since 1993.
The Austrian Financial Police began executing the Gambling Act on January 2 and visited one Concord branch after another.
A raid towards end of the month at the Montesino venue was the last action for Concord with a € 100,000 guaranteed tournament planned for the following weekend cancelled and all branches of the Concord Group were subsequently closed.
Concord, owned by Peter Zanoni, stated: “Due to the ongoing, illegal and excessive administrative measures against the Concord Group’s operations – despite the national and international provisional legal protection procedures, the management announces that as of today, all of the Concord Group’s operations have been voluntarily closed to avoid that guests and employees are still exposed to the unqualified pressure of the financial police, which is far beyond their competence.
“Since neither the responsible politicians, stakeholders and the highest executive bodies, despite repeated requests, including those supported by universities, have been required to put an end to this arbitrary procedure by the financial police and to ensure that the statutory provisions are complied with in accordance with the constitution, our operations must continue to operate de facto no longer possible,” it added. “We assure all of our employees and our customers that we do everything in our power to enable undisturbed operation in the future.”
Concord plans to take legal action and is petitioning for support.
“400,000 poker players from home and abroad take advantage of this offer every year,” it added. “Our locations were the venues and venues for the world’s largest poker tournaments, which were among the best events internationally.As a result, Austria, especially Vienna, became known and popular in the poker community worldwide.”
“Not only that, the Concord Card Casinos provide 600 jobs for the job market, Austria as a business location benefits from thousands of overnight stays every year through tourism income.The previously free commercial poker game is to disappear from the market through “monopolisation”. This offer vacuum now inevitably pushes all poker players into illegal (online) areas or into neighbouring countries. Domestic goods, player protection, jobs – a decent business, all these things are sacrificed. This initiative [the petition] is intended to bring those specific problems and our concerns to politics and legislation.”
Poker has only been allowed in Austria in casinos, since the start of the year. Poker has only been considered a game of chance for a few years, previously it only required a business license. Due to a transition period, Mr. Zanoni’s old license was valid until the end of 2019. Mr. Zanoni has been involved in numerous proceedings at the Administrative and Constitutional Court over tax issues.