Betfair announced Monday that it has been awarded a license to operate in Austria. It's the first time the company has received regulatory approval to operate outside the United Kingdom and could be the first step toward gaining acceptance throughout Europe.
The Austrian license was granted by the state of Vienna, and the company's next move in the European markets will be to seek permission from all nine Austrian states. Once it receives approval from all the states, Betfair will be able to promote its services throughout the country.
Stephen Hill, Betfair's chief executive, said the Austrian license marks another achievement for the exchange and represents the continued growth that exists for the betting exchange model.
"Gaining a second license within the European Union is an important milestone for Betfair," Hill said. "We look forward to expanding our coverage in the German-speaking region."
Much of the focus in Austria, he added, will be on Betfair's German site, which has a heavy emphasis on sports that are popular in the Germanic region.
While obtaining the license in Austria could open up the business to the rest of the European Union, it wasn't the major news many observers have been anticipating for weeks. Betfair is reportedly close to receiving the first betting exchange license to be granted in Australia, but has faced a great deal of opposition from the racing industry as well as traditional bookmakers and the country's TABs. The latest circulated reports have the company negotiating in Tasmania.
Betfair and Kerry Packer's PBL have formed a 50-50 joint venture that's expected to launch an Australian betting exchange once a license is awarded.