Vienna police crack down on slot machines
Police in Vienna have carried out their first major crackdown on illegal slot machines, following a recent change in the law, and have confiscated around 50 machines.
Eyewitnesses in Klosterneuburger Straße (20th district) told ORF reporters that police took away four coin operated gambling machines from a gambling shop and drove off with them in a police truck.
“Police are checking any places which have slot machines - and if they have a license for them. If not, they are illegal,” police spokesman Wilfried Lehner said. Operators face a fine of between €1,000 and €10,000 for a first offence, and up to €60,000 for repeat offenders, Lehner added.
Fifty police officers were called to a restaurant in the 15th district which was found to have illegal slot machines which had been secured with pepper spray canisters, to try and prevent police from removing them. None of the officers were injured.
Twenty machines were confiscated from a games hall in the Prater, even though the owner insisted that police should have allowed him to keep them in operation until his previously valid license had expired.
At the end of last year politicians modified the Viennese Events Act to ban slot machines from operating at gambling houses that are not a casino venue. The revised bill takes effect this month, and is aimed at preventing problem gamblers from racking up large debts.
Some locations such as petrol stations typically offer gambling machines in Austria.
Novomatic, one of the biggest gaming providers in Austria, is unwilling to comply with the new ban and has said it will take it to the constitutional court if need be.
There are an estimated 2,600 slot machines in Vienna.
Plain clothes policeman will also be carrying out random checks on restaurants, bars and gambling shops in the next few weeks to see if illegal slot machines are being used.