When it comes to gambling, Austria is an intriguing destination because nearly all forms of gaming are permitted there. Casinos Austria, however, is the sole operator in the area and has near-total control over the gaming industry there. Keep reading for information on gambling in Austria.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
All types of gambling, both offline and online, are allowed in Austria, making for a relatively player-friendly regulatory climate. The Ministry of Finance is in charge of issuing licenses to businesses, and thus far only 15 have been approved.
Twelve of those licenses are held by Casinos Austria, the giant company that operates all of Austria’s land-based casinos, and the other three were awarded to private firms but were later cancelled for noncompliance with Austrian legislation.
Casinos Austria has a virtual monopoly on gambling in Austria, so gamblers can find plenty of options for where to spend their time and money. However, Austrian law requires that gamblers be protected, thus wager and time limitations are implemented across the board, even in online games.
Players have it simple when it comes to gambling, but potential business owners have it much harder. Businesses seeking a gambling license in Austria must meet a number of requirements, including having their headquarters in the country, restricting their customer base to residents of Austria, and paying their fair share of gambling taxes.
These rules are so stringent that only Casinos Austria can comply with them fully. The Austrian Lottery (win2day) is the only other operator with a valid license, however Casinos Austria owns a portion of that business as well.
Let’s break down the scenario into its component gambling types.
Offline and internet gambling in Austria are both controlled by Gaming Casinos Austria. Half of Austria’s 12 casinos can be found in major metropolitan areas and other tourist hotspots, while the other half can be found in more rural areas. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and poker are just some of the games available at Austria’s many casinos.
Sports betting and other forms of “Kleines Glücksspiel,” or low-stakes gambling like slot machines, are left to the discretion of Austria’s nine federal states.
Slots parlors can be found all across the country, and most of them have similar policies in place, including limits on bet size and play time, as well as the routine disabling of machines after two hours of use.
Casinos Austria also holds the exclusive internet gambling license in Austria. Slot machines, Roulette, Blackjack, and Poker are just some of the online casino games you may play here. In addition to buying lottery tickets online, visitors to the win2day website in Austria can also play casino games.
Many people in Austria enjoy playing poker, and they typically do so at one of Casinos Austria’s venues. In spite of this, poker clubs across the country will be shut down by the year 2020 after the Ministry of Finance determined in 2013 that poker is a game of chance.
Online poker is popular, and both win2day, the website of the Austrian Lottery, and Casinos Austria, an authorized online casino, have poker games.
Even though Austrian legislation prohibits online gambling sites from accepting Austrian players, Austrian citizens have little trouble gaining access to one of the many offshore sites in order to play poker games.
Playtech powers both the Casinos Austria online casino and the Austrian Lottery website win2day, where the vast majority of bingo games are played.
If you’re a bingo player in search of diversity, you won’t have any trouble locating a wide selection of online bingo casinos that aren’t based in Austria.
The Genova Lottery, a popular Austrian lottery, has been held continuously since its inception in 1751. Austrian Lottery currently holds the solitary lottery license in Austria. The operator provides players with access to a number of different draw and instant win games, as well as a number of different offline terminals from which to purchase lottery tickets.
Casinos Austria owns a portion of Austrian Lottery, a separate corporation, which gives it virtual monopoly control over all gaming in Austria.
Participatory Video Games
Tighter regulations may be on the horizon for social games in Austria, especially those that feature “loot boxes” due to recent proposed amendments to the country’s gambling legislation. If loot boxes are considered gambling, the same rules applied to operators of traditional gambling games might be applied to games that include them.
Current gambling regulations in Austria do not address daily fantasy sports, and esports betting is both allowed and prohibited in different parts of the country.
Legalized Sports Betting in Austria
Small stakes gambling, as indicated above, and sports betting, which federal law states is a game of skill, are both left up to the discretion of each of Austria’s nine provinces, despite the Glücksspielgesetz (GSpG) dictating the legality of gambling nationwide.
All nine provinces have passed legislation legalizing sports betting, while some have implemented regulations such as €500 maximum wagers, blackout hours from midnight to 6am, and prohibitions on betting on crimes, fatalities, and animal-related events. Live sports betting is prohibited in Styria and Vienna save for halftime, fulltime, and goalscorer markets.
Many Austrians enjoy sports betting through the Casinos Austria website, the Austrian Lottery website, or the various Toto betting terminals across the country, but there are few restrictions preventing punters from accessing a wider range of sports markets on the many sports betting websites accepting Austrians.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
In Austria, you have to be at least 18 years old to gamble legally. This rule applies to both traditional brick-and-mortar casinos and Casinos Austria, the sole legal internet casino in Austria.
Tax rates in Austria are among the highest in the world, and they vary with the type of gaming being offered. There is a 2% tax on all sports betting wagers, and a 40% tax on gross gambling earnings for businesses that facilitate internet gambling or electronic lotteries.
Players are not subject to any taxes on their earnings because the country places the burden of taxation on the operators.
A Brief Overview of Austrian Gambling Law
The first statute to establish criminal penalties for unlawful gambling was passed in 1696, so gambling is not a new phenomenon in Austria. Simultaneously, a court in Vienna began giving gambling licenses about the same time for games like card and dice.
The Genova Lottery, the very first lottery in the country, was started by a private corporation in 1751, and it is still going strong today. The Genova Lottery was nationalized by the Austrian government in 1773 so that it might be used to provide for public good.
A class lottery was introduced in 1912 to facilitate more frequent drawings without waiting for all tickets to be sold.
The first modern casinos in Austria debuted in Semmering and Baden in 1934, but by 1938 the entire industry had been outlawed, with only the casinos already in existence being allowed to stay open. By 1950, the ban on casinos had been repealed.
Casinos Austria, formerly known as sterreichische Spielbanken, was founded in 1967 and eventually merged with other casinos in the region.
In 1970, casinos in Vienna became the first in Austria to offer blackjack.
The Glücksspielgesetz (GSpG), the primary gambling law, was enacted and the first casino and lottery licenses were awarded in 1989. In 1990, 12 of Austria’s 15 gambling licenses were held by Casinos Austria, allowing the company to open casinos around the country. The Austrian Lottery was the sole recipient of a lottery license.
In 2000, after a change to the GSpG law, casinos were permitted to be open every day (excluding Christmas Eve). Online casino games from Austrian Lottery were first made available through win2day in 2003. Since poker was labeled a gambling game in 2013, all poker rooms will be shut down by 2020.
In 2017, proposals were made to allow Internet service providers in Austria to prevent access to illegal gambling sites. The Ministry of Finance announced in 2021 that it will establish a new regulatory body and institute new safeguards for players.
Almost all forms of gambling are allowed in Austria, as long as they are accessed through the websites of Casinos Austria or the Austrian Lottery, as the country’s gambling rules are primarily concerned with player protection.
However, at the present time, nothing prevents Austrian players from using any of the several offshore internet casinos available to them.