Austria Hits Offshore Online Casino Operators With Over €40m in Claims

  • 2,000+ clients filed claims against illegal offshore gambling companies such as William Hill
  • Advofin has won every case so far, citing problem gambling concerns in its argument
  • Litigation financing firm has launched another campaign in Germany, predicting €50m in claims
  • Austria’s finance minister has called for a regulatory overhaul to help tackle illegal gambling
A computer keyboard with Austrian flag and casino keys
Austrian customers have hit offshore online casino operators with more than €40m ($48.6m) worth of legal claims via litigation financing firm Advofin. [Image:]

Securing customer refunds

On behalf of Austrian citizens, a litigation financing company has processed more than €40m ($48.6m) worth of claims against offshore online casino operators over the past 18 months.

Advofin launched its legal battle against international online casino operators in 2019. Current Austrian law only permits online casino wagering through the nation’s sole licensed operator, Casinos Austria. As a result, Advofin worked to acquire full refunds for Austrian residents who had lost money on illegal sites.

William Hill, Betfair, and LeoVegas are among the offending operators

The firm accepted the case of anyone with a net loss of at least €3,000 ($3,646) from any single offshore operator since January 1, 2000. Advofin has processed claims for more than 2,000 clients against operators headquartered in a number of countries since the campaign started. William Hill, Betfair, and LeoVegas are among the offending operators.

A highly successful campaign

Advofin explained the motive behind its campaign on its website. The firm said Austrian citizens gamble more than €400,000 ($485,928) daily through illegal online casinos, with a total of 71 international operators facilitating Austrian gambling. Advofin urged customers of these illegal sites to get in touch. “We’ll get your money back risk free,” the group assured.

We’ll get your money back risk free”

The legal financing company also posted a short video on Youtube explaining the process. It made it clear that, although website operators had broken Austrian regulation, the nation’s law considered users of their sites to be victims of illegal activity:

So far, Advofin has won every one of its cases against online casino operators. According to reports from EGR, these include court judgments and out-of-court settlements. Advofin’s success is partly due to its use of problem gambling concerns in its argument. As a result, online casino operators are unable to cite Article 56 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU in their defense.

Article 56 allows any company to advertise and provide their services across EU nations. Operators often use it to advertise and operate in markets across the region which prohibit gambling. However, any public health concern overrides this rule – an exception Advofin has utilized to win cases for its clients.

Advofin reportedly widened its campaign into the German market as of January last year. The company estimated a potential €50m ($60.7m) worth of cases in the country, from a forecasted 4,000 claims.

New regulator inbound

Partly in an effort to combat illegal offshore gambling, the Austrian government has outlined plans to introduce a national regulator with greater powers. The Austrian Treasury is currently responsible for the regulation of the nation’s gambling industry. Earlier this week, however, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel announced plans for an overhaul of the country’s gambling framework.

Blümel intends to introduce an official regulator with enhanced focus on player protection and tighter control over illegal gambling, including offshore online casinos. According to the minister, the regulator will have the power to block access to illegal gambling websites. The planned reform will also include the creation of a blacklist of unlicensed domains.

Minister Blümel said he aims to pass these new laws by autumn this year. The reform will require the approval of the Austrian parliament beforehand.

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