Austrian Lotteries (Allwyn) – Big Youth Protection Issues in Austria

October 20, 2023 | Responsible gaming

Press information – press release for the press conference

Vienna, 13.10.2023

Continued gross misconduct in youth protection at the Austrian Lotteries

The Spielerhilfe Association continues to identify major violations of youth protection at the Austrian Lotteries. Already in April there were 70 reports of youth protection violations in Salzburg and Upper Austria. The lotteries then raised the minimum age from 16 to 18 years. In further mystery shopping checks carried out by the Player Protection Association, in which 12 to 14-year-old children were used, gambling products were again able to be purchased in 60% of cases. Spielerhilfe provided this evidence at a press conference today.

“The protection of minors is still not guaranteed. In more than half of all test purchases, children were able to purchase Austrian Lottery products, even though they are only available to those aged 18 and over. The company apparently has big problems controlling its sales partners,” says Christoph Holubar, chairman and spokesman for Spielerhilfe.

Spielerhilfe is of the opinion that the recent age increase is a “greenwashing” and “covering up” of the youth protection problem on the part of the Austrian Lotteries. If in over 60% of all test cases children who were clearly too young were still able to purchase gambling products, it is far from possible to speak of functioning player and youth protection.

Child protection scandal uncovered in Salzburg

During surveys in the federal state of Salzburg, Spielerhilfe team found that – contrary to the new version of the Salzburg Youth Act that has been in force there since March 2019, the products were illegally offered for sale to those aged 16 and over, although according to the law this should only have been done from the age of 18.

For years, the Austrian Lotteries failed to inform the sales partners in Salzburg about the current youth protection regulations and therefore allowed the products to be sold to those aged 16 and over. The company ignored the law over a long period of

4.5 years and offered its gambling products for purchase to those aged 16 and over. The lotteries always knew, based on various studies, that children and young people in particular are susceptible to problematic gambling and gambling addiction.

“The lotteries ignored the legal situation in Salzburg and illegally sold their products to a target group that was too young through the sales outlets.

In doing so, the company apparently risked that its contractual partners would continually violate applicable laws and commit administrative offenses,” said Holubar.

The years of disregard for the law in Salzburg give great cause for concern and raise the question of whether the Austrian Lotteries are actually a reliable partner when it comes to compliance in the area of youth and player protection, according to the Spielerhilfe at the press conference.

Tough measures were taken against lotteries

During the press conference, Spielerhilfe brought harsh consequences to the table as a means of dealing with the misconduct that had been highlighted. These include a further 24 reports of violations of youth protection when selling lottery products in Salzburg on the basis of the Youth Act. The association also suggested a reliability check with the licensing body, the Federal Ministry of Finance. This is also due to the serious violations of youth protection in Salzburg since 2019. The report was also sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is responsible for consumer and youth protection, as well as the respective youth protection offices in the individual federal states.

According to the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce, violations of youth protection can sometimes have serious consequences: “Violations are punished with fines of EUR 250 up to a maximum fine of EUR 14,600 or with a prison sentence of up to 4 weeks. Repeated violations can also be punished with the revocation of the business license,” says the Chamber of Commerce in an information sheet.

For this reason, Spielerhilfe reported the serious youth protection violations in Salzburg to the Chamber of Commerce and suggested that the Austrian Lotteries should consider banning them from trading.

“As a basic requirement, the Austrian lotteries must ensure proper player protection. The vehement violations in Salzburg, but also in the other federal states, confirm that this is not guaranteed. The protection of young game participants is an absolute basic requirement that fails here. That is why the responsible authorities should now check whether the Austrian lotteries actually have the necessary reliability to be able to continue to keep the license,” says Christoph Holubar from Spielerhilfe.

Spielerhilfe calls for the youth protection problems to be addressed immediately

At the same time, a solution was also presented on how to get the youth and player protection problem at the Austrian lotteries under control: In the opinion of Spielerhilfe, it should be possible to resolve these problems through compulsory registration. Participation in lottery, scratch cards or other games of chance offered by the lottery group should no longer be possible anonymously, the association demands:

“Anonymous participation in the game actually makes player protection almost impossible. There is no possibility of blocking gambling addicts, no control over gambling behavior and, as can be seen from our surveys, no functioning youth protection. A registration requirement would also remove the responsibility for age checks from the over 5,000 sales outlets, thus enabling perfect protection of young people and players,” concludes Holubar.

The association called on the Federal Ministry of Finance as the supervisory authority and other authorities to take action so that the current violations are remedied immediately.

If you have any questions, please contact:

 Christoph Holubar Association Spielerhilfe

+43 664 / 239 58 28

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