Online casino operators have been pounded by claims for refunds of player losses in Austria, but a recent Supreme Court ruling suggests there will be no similar flood of claims for sports-betting reimbursements.
A lawyer for the firm handling the case called it a “landmark” ruling for the four Austrian states to which it is expected to apply.
Austria’s Supreme Court affirmed lower court rulings holding that a player from the Austrian state of Styria has no right to reimbursement for betting losses from a European Union-based gambling operator, according to Stadler Voelkel Attorneys.
The court ruling centred on the fact that Styria’s sports-betting law only regulates land-based betting, and therefore only applies to betting within the territory of that state, according to law firm partner Arthur Stadler.
Therefore, sports betting offered by an operator based elsewhere, and on the internet, is not covered by potential claims, he said.
The court ruling says there is no regulatory gap in Styria, no violation of its laws by the operator and, therefore, “no legal loophole” that could allow claims similar to the ones made in online casino, Stadler said.
In August 2021, the Supreme Court opened the door for claims for millions of euros in reimbursement for online casino losses, after it held that the country’s online casino monopoly, Casinos Austria’s win2day, was not incompatible with EU law.
One company alone has claimed it has won €50m for clients in Austrian online casino settlements and judgments.
But in Austria, sports betting is a state and not a federal matter.
Four Austrian states do not regulate online sports betting — Styria, Vienna, Burgenland and Carinthia — while others, such as Salzburg, do regulate betting online, Stadler said.
“The refund of betting losses will not be possible for [the Austrian provinces] where online betting issues are explicitly not regulated, as the activity is not prohibited activity,” Stadler told VIXIO Gambling Compliance in an email.
Austria has nine states, called Bundesländer.
The Vienna-based firm said it represented the unnamed gambling company throughout the litigation. The court has not yet publicly released the ruling, the lawyers said.