Austria is home to many gamblers, even if the country is, perhaps, not the most open when it comes to legalising online gambling activities. Austria’s gambling laws tend to be in flux of late, and there are various rules regarding small gambling enterprises versus larger ones, games of skill versus games of chance, and access to offshore casinos (Glücksspielseiten). Naturally, this presents some challenges if players aren’t in the know. Fortunately, on this page, we will look at the Austrian online gambling laws, introduce players to the ins and outs of the internet gambling industry, and hopefully help them to learn where it is safe to play, and where it isn’t. Let’s dive straight in…
An Overview of Gambling in Austria
Austria’s Glücksspielgesetz (Gambling Act) and the E-Commerce Gesetz are the two primary pieces of legislation which govern gambling activities in Austria. Together they ensure that the legal internet betting scene is heavily regulated.
Austria can administer gambling licenses to online operators, although hardly any have been dished out to operators. The authorities do fully regulate and license land-based casinos in the country. When it comes to gambling enterprises, Austria differentiates between small companies (Kleines Glücksspiel) and major gambling businesses.
The larger gambling businesses can only operate in licensed online casinos. However, smaller operators can take place without a license, and can commonly be found in pubs and clubs, as well as arcades. These types of games cannot have wagers which exceed €0.50/€1 to €10 and a maximum of two to three hours gameplay is all a player gets. After that, the machines automatically shut-off to prevent addiction.
When it comes to online gambling, the rules vary. Each region has some control over small gambling operations, as you might expect for a country which operates under a federal system. However, there is an overarching national gambling law preventing the regulation (and thus legalisation) of online casino games.
Poker, for instance, was classified as a game of chance in 2013, and cannot be played online. Nor can most online casino games. Sports betting (oddly enough), does not fall under the jurisdiction of the authorities, and this has allowed many betting companies to flourish.
While this all sounds bad, things aren’t quite as clear cut as that. On the contrary, Austria doesn’t stop its players from visiting offshore sites. The Austrian gambling authorities and Ministry of Finance have discussed blacklisting and ISP (internet service provider) blocking access to foreign internet casinos as recently as 2018. However, thus far, no such law has been passed and been put into effect.
To date, Austrians are entitled to play at offshore casinos and gamble on casino games as they see fit. The authorities frown on it and look down upon that sort of behaviour, but with no official punishments or laws against it, there is nothing they can do. As an Austrian, you are, therefore, permitted to bet online in this manner.
A Note on Austria’s Gambling Games
Austria has quite intensive lottery regulation. The primary reason for this is that lotteries are legal in the country, and everybody plays them. Tickets to the Austrian lottery can be bought online at licensed sites, with the 6/45 lotto game the most popular in the country.
Virtually all casino games are considered games of chance. This is even true of poker, which is the opposite approach to those taken in other European countries. There are few casino games which are considered games of skill. Most table games are, therefore, deemed to be illegal. This hasn’t stopped arcades and licensed brick-and-mortar casinos from offering them. Instead, the games of skill versus chance rules only seem to apply to internet sites, of which none are licensed.
By contrast, sports betting has flourished in Austria, and many punters take full advantage of that. The primary reason for this is that Austria doesn’t have any specific laws to prevent sports betting in any sort of digital capacity. As well as taking advantage of this, some bookmakers have gone one step further and started to introduce casino games to their sites. This does provide Austrians with an avenue to play casino games.
So, bearing in mind that Austrians do have access to several casino games, what do they like to play online?
Austria’s Most Played Casino Games
First and foremost, if you wish to play online casino games online, you will likely need to visit an offshore casino. These are also known as foreign casinos, as they are not regulated or licensed in Austria. In fact, in many cases, they have nothing to do with the European country at all. Even so, we typically call these sites Austrian casinos, as many tend to cater to players in the nation.
Austrians typically like the same types of casino games that are popular in other countries. Any decent Austrian online casino will offer the following:
Slots: Slots are popular in Austria. It is no surprise that some of the more recognisable software providers hail from this country, such as Booongo and Novomatic. Novomatic slots tend to be hugely popular with Austrians, arguably more so than in other European countries. These games are typically more straightforward than those provided by rival developers, and often resemble the land-based slot gaming machines which Austrians love so much.
Baccarat: Baccarat is a popular game in land-based casinos across the country, although not so much online. While there is a decent following of Austrian players trying their hand at baccarat online, there aren’t as many variants of the game available as you might find at casinos catering to players in other countries.
Blackjack: Blackjack is popular in seemingly every country on the planet, and Austria is no different. Quite a handful of blackjack variants can be played, ranging from simple single deck releases, to more complex live dealer titles, and oddities such as Blackjack Surrender, and Switch.
Table Poker: Poker was always popular with Austrians. However, poker’s popularity went through the roof when the authorities decided to cut it out of the market altogether, by labelling it a game of chance. Since then, Austrians have flocked to offshore casinos to get their fix of the now-outlawed game. Naturally, many software providers have been happy to help kit out Austrian casinos with a plethora of variants. Some sites even offer poker tournaments for their most die-hard Austrian fans.
Live Dealer Casino Games: Many of the games already mentioned (poker, baccarat, blackjack but also roulette) can be played in live dealer format at Austrian casinos. These games are played with a real-to-life human dealer. Most top providers have at least one table for each game which is played with a German-speaking dealer, which helps to make them appealing to Austrian players.
Video Poker: Video poker is popular in Austrian pubs and arcades, where it is a much-loved fixed odds betting terminal game. Unsurprisingly, many top Austrian casinos also carry digital versions of these simple games.
Instant Win/Scratch Cards: Austrians can also indulge in instant win and scratch cards online. These are not as common as the other games already mentioned but could be considered an option for any player who seeks to play something different.
Lottery, Keno and Bingo: Lottery games are amongst the few licensed gambling games you can play in Austria from home. A few different lottery websites are licensed by the Austrian Ministry of Finances. However, you can also get to grips with lottery games such as keno and bingo from online casinos, too.
Roulette: Another major casino classic which is popular with Austrians is roulette. They tend to prefer European roulette to American roulette (and who wouldn’t), and it can be played as a live dealer game, or in RNG (random number generator) format at most Austrian casinos.
Some of the most prominent and most influential offshore casinos catering to Austrians also serve up sports betting options and even (on occasions) e-sports and virtual sports betting options, all under one roof. This is something worth considering when deciding where to play.
Taxes on Big Wins at Austrian Casinos
As Austria does not formally have any licensed online casinos in operation and doesn’t regulate its internet betting industry, there are no taxes to be paid on winnings. However, even pulling off successes in land-based casinos won’t see you end up paying any tax in Austria.
The casinos themselves are responsible for paying all gambling-related taxes in the country. This is true of the few licensed venues and brick-and-mortar ones alike. In Austria, Casinos Austria runs 12 of the 15 licensed land-based casinos, and, therefore, pays most of the taxes. In exchange, this monopoly is generally given a free hand to become the number one gambling business in the country.
Each gambling operator pays between 35-80% of all stakes (minus winnings) to the government in tax. You will not have to pay a euro cent, whether you play legally in Austrian based casinos, or illegally at offshore sites. You may have to pay income tax on any interest you earn from those winnings when they sit in your bank, though.
The Best Austrian Online Casinos to Join Today
You should have a relatively decent idea about what you can play in a typical site now. You will also be aware of how the muddled Austrian gambling laws work. Now, all you need to know is find somewhere to play your favourite games online.
As mentioned earlier, there aren’t really any Austrian casinos you can join. Instead, most of these sites are based offshore and act as foreign casinos. This doesn’t mean that they can’t offer you a top selection of games and Austria-friendly promotions and bonuses.
In fact, some offshore casinos aim their services at Austrians so much that you might not be able to tell that they are foreign domains. Before signing up to any casino, here are a few things you may wish to check that your chosen casino provides the following:
Austria-Friendly Bonuses: Most online casinos dish out promotions and bonuses to players. However, some of them are region-specific. You will want to make sure that your chosen casino has top promo deals which can be claimed by players in Austria. This, as well as other essential things such as wagering requirements, can be checked by looking at a promotion’s terms and conditions.
German Language Gaming: Many Austrians can speak English and can, therefore, play at plenty of online casinos. However, an online casino which is aiming to impress players in Austria should also offer gameplay in German. Naturally, many of them do just that.
The Euro Currency: You don’t want to be playing casino games using US dollars. Instead, any good Austrian casino worth its salt will let you deposit, wager and withdraw using your favoured euro currency.
Austrian Payment Methods: Austrian casinos should also excel at providing you with payment methods which are useful to you. You’re going to want to see VISA, MasterCard, Skrill, Neteller, and Sofort to name but a few. On top of that, cryptocurrency, other e-wallets and Austrian bank methods are ideal.
Your Favourite Games: As mentioned above, Austrian casinos will likely feature software from Booongo and Novomatic. However, why play at a site which offers just two developers’ software when you can play at one which provides many? Most top Austrian internet casino sites can provide you with anything from 500-3,000 games from a myriad of developers, not all of which come from the country.
Reliable Support Options: You never know when you might need to contact customer support to obtain assistance and help. With that in mind, it is worth ensuring that support is free to use, that live chat support is offered and that it is available in German on a 24/ basis. This is not too much to ask.
Mobile Gameplay: Austria has an excellent array of telephone network providers, so getting online with mobile casinos should be a doddle. Ideally, any Austrian casino you join will at least be able to offer you an instant play (browser-based) version of their site. Some of the big and popular sportsbooks can also serve up dedicated gambling apps, too.
For the time being, there are no laws which prohibit Austrians from joining offshore and foreign casino sites. As these sites tend to fulfil most of the criteria listed above, and Austria doesn’t have many regulated casinos of its own, you would do well to play at them. You can afford to be selective and should be so if you wish to play at the internet’s very best Austrian online casino domains.