Austrian eyes – for so long compelled to seek fortunes beyond their Own Boundaries are currently looking inwards for the first time in many years.

Undercurrents, rumours, speculation, the nod and the wink, add up to admittedly circumstantial but nevertheless compelling evidence of a reawakening of Austria’s street market. Any AWP business limited to three of the nine Austrian regions and therefore numbering no more than 10,000 units, could be set for regeneration. If it happens- and especially if Upper Austria is involved – then market could expand by another 10,000 units.

Buy why should it?  Are the staid and conservative (by their own admission) Austrians not content with restricting its AWPs to Vienna, Styria and Corinthia?  It is all wheels within wheels, but while no one is saying anything on the record, there is reason to believe that it won’t stay, as it is in Austria for too much longer. Apart from the obvious considerations, the untidiness of having part of the country open to limited payout machines in public places and the tax benefits to the state, there is a shift in opinion among the main protagonists.

      Casino Gambling in Austria – apart from those few, limited AWP opportunities – has long been the private domain of monopoly holder Casinos Austria with its 12 grand locations dotted around the country. A somewhat aloof organization, which apparently has, scants time or regard for talking with the international trade press. Casinos Austria has surely influenced decision makers against freeing up the street market. Vested interests of this nature have for years been under pressure from other elements within the internationality powerful Austrian Gaming Industry. An appreciation of the growing pressure has reportedly eroded this entrenched position.

      With less opposition from Casinos Austria – even tacit approval – as a trade – off for securing its casino monopoly, the opportunity may be there for the Austrian authorities to bring their country into line with other EC members. Austria is, after all, bound by no fever than nine other countries, almost all of which have infinitely more liberal street market limited payout machine laws.
      Accordingly, there is a noticeable if surreptitious, shift in Austrian AWP interest. Giant international supplier Novomatic is already strong in the legal AWP jurisdictions within Austria and is surely primed ready to step in. Another big player with an Austrian base, ainsworth Game Technology, recently launched AWP versions of its casino games specifically for Austria.

      In the greater Linz area of Upper Austria, the big international names of Fun world, TAB and Amatic all have their roots in the heady old days of Austrian AWP’s before their territory was closed and they made their names outside of Austria and in other sectors. They would be ideally placed to capitalize because Upper Austria was always the hotbed of AWP activity.

And the influence of major names from outside of Austria is beginning to be felt. The Giant Gauselmann Group from neighboring Germany is gradually accumulating stakes in a variety of Austrian-based gambling ventures. All circumstantial, it is true, but it all fits and as they say, there’s no smoke without fire.
      It is two years since we last toured this most beautiful of countries. A review of what colored our appreciation of Austria then remains accurate and perhaps even more so. Austria then remains accurate and perhaps even more so. Austria has an influence on the international gambling fraternity way beyond its modest size.
      Take names like Novomatic, Atronic, Amatic, TAB and Fun world, but now add to them major names which have positively leapt to prominence since then, Global Draw, betandwin, cashpoint and add to them some even more recent bright entrepreneurs such as Arland and you have a constantly moving mix of technological wizardry which is breathtaking in its scope.

      Austria got big, basically because of the virtual closedown of the street market, coupled with the monopoly. It has forced its way out of those bindings by sheer mulish refusal to lie down before unreasoning impediments. Its entrepreneurs took their abilities and applied them energetically to the business outside of Austria. And they found themselves in the right place at the right time.
      Veritable empires were built- Novomatic in manufacturing and operating in both street and casino sectors almost globally. Atronic carving for itself a position of huge respect in the toughest of businesses – making casino slots and systems; Amatic spreading its product base wider but latterly scoring with a multiplayer roulette classic, the two greatest touchscreen game rivals in Europe, only a few miles apart in Fun world and TAB.

      And the entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t stop there. If there’s an opportunity somewhere it’s odds on that the Austrians will be at the front of the effort to capitalize on it. Sports betting, fixed odds betting terminals. Using online servers to access jurisdictions with user-friendly coin/bill activated touchscreen machines – even building bookmaker shops around them-found their base in Austria.
      It is a country which never ceases to amaze in its gambling ingenuity. It there was ever an award for outstanding Services to the International Gaming Community, then it’s first home in Austria.


      Austria has a population of just over eight million and a GDP per head of US at $40,320 compared with the $44,180 0r Germany at $ 36,290. Its inflation rate is 1.8 percent (US 3.3 percent. Germany 1.6 percent)
      The country must hold elections by November of this year. Currently the country is run by a coalition of the OVP (the People’s Party –centre  right) and the Alliance for the Future of Austria which is extreme right. According to insiders, the Social Democratic Cocktail Party, currently the opposition, should join the mix either in partnership with the OVP or the Greens.
      Austria currently holds the EC Presidency (until the end of June) and controversially initially opposed talks on Turkish membership of the EC, probably motivated by the fact that three-quarters of Austrians opposed Turkish entry. The unit of currency is the euro.