Gambling Addict to Receive €2.5 Million Compensation from Novomatic

Following an unidentified slot player’s lawsuit against Novomatic, the Austrian gambling company was ordered to pay the plaintiff €2.5 million in compensation. As local media reported on Monday, the court ruled that the gambler’s addiction to slots rendered all his bets invalid, so the company had to repay all the money he wagered on slot machines plus an interest.

In the judgment that was made public Monday, October 22, the court found out that the gambler was under the influence of addiction while playing slot games. According to the plaintiff, an unidentified Austrian man, he lost a little over €2 million on Novomatic-run slot machines over a period of ten years. From 2002 to 2012, the plaintiff placed bets on gaming devices in the country’s capital, Vienna Online reports. According to local media outlets, the ruling was issued on August 10 but has not been made public until now.

The plaintiff claimed that during that time, from 2002 to 2012, he was “partially incapacitated” due to his addiction. A psychiatric-neurological expert opinion heard by the court explains that the man could not resist and played excessively. His compulsive behavior and incapacitation left him unable to work, which motivated the lawsuit and the claim for compensation. According to the ruling, Novomatic Gaming Industries GmbH now has to repay the gambler €2,009,100 plus interest. The total sum is €2.5 million or approximately US$2.87 million.

All these gaming machines, slots and dice games, were operated by Novomatic, a manufacturer and distributor of gaming cabinets, electronic casino games, and various gaming platforms. The company is based in the Austrian town of Gumpoldskirchen, around 30 km away from Vienna. The decision ruled by the Regional Court of Wiener Neustadt is not final and legal representatives of Novomatic say they will appeal.

Not the First Loss in Court for Novomatic

This is not the first time Novomatic is ordered to repay the losses of a gambling addict, although the compensation in this case is, indeed, a record. In 2014, the company had to refund another Austrian gambler with €800,000 after a court in Vienna deemed all “gaming contracts” invalid. According to the ruling, the gambling addiction of the person made him not responsible for his actions. The plaintiff’s lawyer specified the player was not visiting a casino but betting on Novomatic slots outside casinos.

In late 2014, politicians in the capital passed amendments to the Viennese Events Act, which effectively banned slots and other electronic gaming machines from being installed and operated outside casinos. Until that change, slots could be played in various locations such as shops and gas stations but after January 1, 2015, many non-casino gaming machines had to be switched off. At the time, there were 2,600 devices in Vienna and around 1,500 of them were run by Novomatic.

The ban was intended to combat problem gambling, especially in low-income individuals. It is unclear, however, whether it was effective or not. In the latest case against Novomatic, the court also said that its gaming machines violated the regulations in several ways, most notably by accepting too high stakes.

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