A step-by-step example of opening a casino in Austria
Austria is a region where gambling is particularly popular not only with locals and tourists, but also with government regulators. Casinos here are history, luxury and innovation. But it all comes with a price, enshrined in the legal requirements for the industry.
Gambling in Austria is legal and regulated on two levels: state and provincial. Land-based and online casinos are a monopoly, controlled by the Law on Games of Chance or Austrian Gambling Act (GSpG) at the federal level. According to the law, there are only 15 casino licenses and all of them are owned by Casinos Austria AG.
The total revenue of the gambling establishments in 2015 was more than 310 million EUR. Approximately 7.5 million players visit the casinos annually. There are 545 gaming tables and 6,365 slot machines, as well as 5,193 lottery outlets.
The stages of launching a physical gaming club
If the market analysis and familiarisation with the legal framework have been completed, it’s time to highlight for yourself the main areas to take care of before starting up. In order to set up an effective, profitable business, the operator must follow these steps:
Choosing a regulator
One of the basic steps is to determine the geolocation of the future facility and study the legal nuances of the country.
Factors influencing the choice of region include:
- The economic and political environment;
- the taxation grid and incentives for industry establishments
- transparency of the legal structure of the market;
- the level of development of the tourism sector, etc.
Most countries have a policy of co-ownership and doing business with foreign investors and local residents. For example, the operator obtains a residence permit in the chosen region or hires local citizens as founders.
The company must have a registered office in the country in which it will operate – Austria. Operators open commercial accounts with local banks. This practice allows the authorities to have maximum control over the financial structure of the market and to combat money laundering effectively.
As a rule, onshore gambling business is closely connected with the tourism industry. Entertainment facilities are most often opened on the premises of hotels, resorts, etc.
Requirements to premises differ from country to country, but there are key points common to all regulators. For example, vending halls cannot be opened in the vicinity of:
- medical facilities;
- educational facilities (schools, kindergartens, etc.);
- family, children’s entertainment centres;
- public places (shopping centres, metro stations, etc.).
It is worth taking care to find the necessary premises for the establishment right away or to build it from scratch. In Austria, opening a legal casino is only possible in a five-star hotel with at least 150 rooms. For this purpose, the hospitality institution must have the appropriate certificate. The hotel must also have suitable premises for a casino. In particular, its area cannot be less than 500 square metres.
Another option is to build your own hotel and open a casino in it. However, such an investment would be long-term, riskier and more likely to encounter corruption.
Rental property for a casino in Austria
Lease of commercial real estate allows the manager of the company to save significantly on costs. After all, there is no need to spend money on buying a plot of land and building office or production facilities. It is enough to find a suitable property and negotiate the lease.
Commercial property rental types
Before entering into an agreement about the use of commercial premises, the contracting parties must clarify how the lease relationship qualifies. In Austria, there are three main types of leases for commercial property:
- A simple lease (Miete).
- Lease of an equipped property with the right to make a profit (Pacht).
- A freehold lease with a landlord’s right of alienation (Leihe or Prekarium).
The distinction between these forms is decisive in differentiating the rights and obligations of the parties and thus the legal consequences of one or the other.
Especially in the case of Miete and Pacht, confusion often arises because both involve the temporary use of property for business purposes.
How to make a tenancy agreement
There are 6 important rules for drawing up a tenancy agreement:
- Regardless of the term, a simple tenancy agreement is drawn up in writing. An agreement for the rental of an equipped property can be agreed verbally, but lawyers strongly recommend that a written act be drawn up.
- The agreement must state the personal details of the parties, the name of the property, the period of validity and the amount of rent.
- In an agreement on an equipped property, describe the contents of the property in detail.
- Agree on any major or minor renovations to the property. In such a case, the landlord is responsible for the condition of the façade and the roof.
- Only sign an agreement after the inspection of the property.
- The tenant must always agree on the operating costs for the duration of the tenancy.
It is advisable to draw up a lease agreement with the help of a lawyer in order to avoid possible disagreements and disputes.
Austrian gambling laws
The legislative package which regulates gambling business in Austria consists of the following acts:
- Law on Games of Chance or Austrian Gambling Act (GSpG) regulates the monopoly of land-based and online venues;
- Austrian Civil Code – responsible for all types of gambling;
- E-Commerce Act – controls online gambling and betting;
- Law on Unfair Competition – responsible for media gambling services and promotional services.
All types of gambling are permitted. Betting is regulated by provincial legislation. Bookmakers and sports betting operators must obtain a licence from the local authority. Charitable gaming is not regulated by a separate law, but is mentioned in the Law on Games of Chance. Lotteries are run by a single organisation – the Österreichische Lotterien Gesellschaft m.b.H.
The Unfair Competition Act, based on the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, is a list of prohibited activities, including in the gambling business. This act prohibits direct advertising directed at minors. It also prohibits the promotion of pyramid games, where customers are rewarded for new players brought in.