Frankfurt-listed Bet-at-Home.com has said it is temporarily withdrawing its online casino operations in Austria, due to legal claims for reimbursement of player losses.
Its Maltese unit was already facing claims for refunds of player losses in online casino and a recent Austrian Supreme Court ruling held that foreign online casino operators are illegal and player contracts are invalid.
Bet-at-Home held the view that court rulings contradicted European law, but the Supreme Court ruling means “it is now unclear whether the bet-at-home.com AG Group will be able to enforce its legal opinion in Austrian courts in the foreseeable future”, the company said today (October 19).
“Although the bet-at-home.com AG Group also assumes that its actions are lawful under European law and that the lawsuits are also inadmissible under civil law, the continuation of the online casino offering in Austria before final legal clarification over a period of time that is currently no longer foreseeable would lead to a steadily increasing risk potential that appears indefensible overall,” the Dusseldorf-based company said.
The company said it is setting aside €24.6m to deal with the player lawsuits, which led to a forecast of €10m to €14m in EBITDA losses for fiscal 2021 and gross betting and gaming revenue of between €93m and €98m.
More details are coming, but a planned November 8 third-quarter earnings report is being postponed, the company said.
Casinos Austria holds a monopoly on licensed online casino through its win2day unit.
The company is majority owned by Sazka Group but the Austrian finance ministry owns a one-third share through a holding company.
Vienna-based firm Advofin Litigation Financing, which backed the successful Supreme Court plaintiff, told VIXIO GamblingCompliance it has more than €60m in claims and 1,000 lawsuits in the works.
The Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG) has said it is preparing a complaint to the European Commission in an attempt to get it to intervene over perceived breaches of EU law in the refund cases.
Bet-at-Home shares fell 12.3 percent in early trading to €20.05.