A recent proposal from the Austrian government sounds like something out of a problem gambler’s dream and a gambling operator’s nightmare; hand back the last 30 years worth of winnings. It’s all part of an effort by Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Löger to protect the Austrian government’s own gaming interests from international competition.

Löger’s out-of-the-box plan includes an effort to block gambling domains that aren’t approved by Austrian authorities that are currently serving Austrian players. In Löger’s estimation, there are approximately 2,000 such sites.

As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also asking that players who lost money on any of those sites be refunded. That generous payback would apply to losses as far back as 30 years(!).

All of Löger’s ideas would be embedded in Austrian law as part of the country’s Gambling Act. It’s also safe to say that all of Löger’s ideas would be challenged in European Union trade courts and would stand little chance of surviving.

But enshrining new laws may not be as important to Löger as simply protecting the interests of an outfit called Casinos Austria. Casinos Austria both operates legal online gambling sites in the country and is partially owned by the Austrian Government.

The proposed legislation is, not surprisingly, being vigorously contested by the rest of the country’s gaming industry. Claus Retschitzegger, president of the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG) told local media that his group will fight the efforts as part of a larger effort to protect Austrian citizens working for companies like Bet-at-Home, which employees 300 Austrians.

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