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Melanie Porter October 18, 2023 3 min read
Austrian Lotteries Criticized for Age Verification Failure
A player protection organization in Austria has criticized Austrian Lotteries for failing to use proper age verification procedures in three out of nine federal states checked by them
The 2019-founded Austrian Players’ Aid Association, also known as the Spielerhilfe Association, has slammed Austrian Lotteries for allegedly allowing underaged players to buy instant win products.
Failure to Perform All Age Verification Procedures
According to the association aimed at advocating for better player protection in the country while offering media education and advice, Austrian Lotteries had breached its operating terms because it allegedly sold tickets for the state-backed lottery to players under 18.
The Spielerhilfe criticized Austrian Lotteries for failing to perform the necessary age verification procedures during a series of test purchases during which underage players attempted to buy 175 lottery products in April and March in Salzburg, Upper Austria, and Lower Austria.
According to the Players’ Aid Association, children aged between 12 and 14 were able to purchase instant win products at 62% of the sales outlets that were part of their tests. This resulted in 70 reports being made based on the youth protection laws that are currently applied in Upper Austria and Salzburg.
Changes in Age Limits
Among other important reforms brought to the domestic gambling legislation by stakeholders in the industry, the age reform asking for an increase in the age of players who are allowed to buy lottery tickets from 16 to 18 came into effect starting July 23, 2023.
Starting July 10, 2023, Austrian Lotteries imposed an age limit of 18 for purchasing lottery tickets, postal tickets, or scratch-off tickets, abolishing the previous age limit of 16. The company described the decision as a self-limitation measure taken voluntarily, similar to the over-16s age limit that was still in force at that time.
Austrian Lotteries added that all lottery retailers would still carry an obligation to perform ID checks on customers when needed. Spielehilfe welcomed the change while still expressing concern over the matter of underage gambling.
In the past years, the legal age of gambling has represented a controversial topic in many parts of the world. In March 2022, some of Michigan’s casino properties decided to lower their gambling age to 18 from 21.
A Technical Solution Might Be Necessary
Spielerhilfe’s chairman and spokesperson, Christoph Holubar, said that “often” there were no age checks during the test purchases, and that player protection for young people was only in place in around half of the cases.
He added that while the current minimum age increase to 18 is expected to raise some awareness of the issue for a while, the problem might not be solved in the long term.
Holubar stated that they were convinced they would be successful with “further test purchases with underage children”, asking for a technical solution such as a registration requirement as a more sustainable solution to this problem.
At the start of September, Premier Lotteries Ireland was fined $160,000 for breaching its licensing conditions regarding self-exclusion. At the time, Carol Boate, the chief of the Irish lottery regulator that imposed the fine, also emphasized the need for robust measures that would eradicate underage gambling and lower the risk of problem gambling.