10/09/2012 : AUSTRIAN COURTS BACK PUNTER EMPLOYER'S CLAIM AGAINST MALTA ONLINE CASINO
Euro 1 million embezzlement has created an intriguing legal and political situation
When an addicted gambler steals money from his employer in one country, and loses it gambling at an internet site in another, can that employer go after an online gambling operator based and licensed in another nation?
That's the interesting question posed by a decision from the Austrian courts in which an online casino based in Malta has been ordered to pay back more than Euro 1 million to an Austrian gambler after a court ruled that the online firm did not have a proper licence to operate.
The Austrian Independent newspaper reports a decision by a court in Graz, Austria has now been backed by the Austrian High Court, and could have profound implications for online gambling operators elsewhere in Europe.
The issue surfaced after an as yet unidentified 40-year-old male online punter's employer in Linz, Austria discovered that he had been stealing from the firm to fund his habit.
The court heard that the Austrian had realised he had a gambling addiction and had barred himself from Austrian-licensed online gambling sites, but had then succumbed to temptation and had started gambling with the Malta-based operator, which the newspaper did not identify.
The gambler is alleged to have embezzled around Euro 1 million from his employer to feed his action between June 2010 and April 2011 at the Malta-based online gambling operation.
When the fraud was discovered, the punter's employer launched litigation demanding the return of the cash by the Malta operator on grounds that the company did not have a licence recognised in Austria.
With an international tussle now developing that will inevitably involve elements of the European Union treaty, the punter remains at work on condition that he makes every effort to repay the company.