The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country in Europe that comprises nine federal provinces, locally known as Bundesländer. Like many other European countries, Austria has centuries-old traditions when it comes to gambling whose history dates back to the early 17th century.
With growing popularity, gambling attracted the attention of local authorities. Austria became one of the first European countries to attempt to combat unregulated gambling. Emperor Leopold I passed legislation in 1696 for the criminal prosecution of individuals involved in unlawful betting.
At the time, gambling was mostly considered a pastime of the poor and common folk. Things changed in the 18th century when the nobility also jumped on the bandwagon. Gambling became the preferred hobby of notable Austrians like the famed composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Maria Theresa, the Archduchess of Austria.
The popularity of card and dice games rapidly increased. This growing popularization led to the introduction of various entry fees and taxes. The country introduced regulated sports betting in the summer of 1916 as a means to further boost the state coffers through the collection of betting duties.
Gambling continues to be closely regulated in Austria to this day. Austrian gamblers have access to a broad range of legal gambling products, online and terrestrial. Most of them, like chance-based games, are controlled on a federal level. Others, like sports betting, are subject to individual provincial regulations.
Laws that Govern Landbased Gambling in Austria
Austrian gamblers are provided with a broad choice of legal gambling options including casino games, sports betting, slots, poker, bingo, and lotteries. These are regulated both in a landbased and virtual format. Most gambling activities in the country are governed by the provisions of the Law on Games of Chance, or Glücksspielgesetz (GSpG).
Regulations in Austria
Online Gambling Regulation
Sports Betting Regulations
The online gambling laws in Austria largely coincide with those that apply to the landbased sector of the industry. Virtual gaming is mentioned specifically in Section 12 of Glücksspielgesetz, which defines such activities as “draws in which players take part in the game directly via electronic media and the decision about the [outcome] is brought about centrally and made available via electronic media.”
Such online games can be legally distributed by operators who have acquired the permission of the local regulator BMF, which is Austria’s Ministry of Finance (Bundesministerium für Finanzen).
This applies to all chance-based games that do not fall within the product range offered by the Austrian Lottery (Österreichischen Lotterien). Blocking the websites of foreign operators that service locals without authorization is not an established practice of the Austrian government.View more...
Gambling Licensing Regime in Austria
The regulatory regime in Austria requires gambling operators to submit applications to acquire licenses. The permits entitle the operators to advertise their services in the country as long as they do so in compliance with certain policies and restrictions. The duration and expiry of each license are specific to the type of gambling product it applies to.
Permits for landbased lottery operations were issued in 2012 and expire in 2027. The duration of permits for slot machines located outside gambling venues and casino games is 15 years. That for sports betting licenses varies from one federal state to another. Another licensing condition is outlined in Section 21 of the Glücksspielgesetz, stating that each applicant is required to prove they have a share capital of at least €22 million.
The applicants for casino and poker licenses should be members of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Upon submitting their documents, operators must pay an application fee of €10,000. Another fee of €100,000 is paid by approved operators upon license reception.
Permits can be revoked in cases of violation of the licensing conditions. In milder cases of violation, the licensees suffer monetary sanctions to a maximum of €22,000. The same fines apply to those who advertise unauthorized gambling in the country.
Withdrawing the permits is a measure taken as a last resort. Those who hold permits for slots located outside designated gambling venues (in restaurants, for instance) must comply with certain restrictions.
Maximum bets are limited to €1 in such places while those in casinos should not exceed €10 per spin. The maximum winnings per slot are restricted to €10,000 for casinos and €1,000 for slots operated outside casinos.
The machines should be programmed to switch off automatically once a customer plays for two hours straight. Online gambling operators can apply for single licenses that cover all products bar those provided by the Austrian Lottery, which offers lotteries and scratch cards.
Taxes Imposed on Gambling Operators in Austria
It makes sense that authorized gambling operators must pay taxes to the Austrian authorities. The tax rates are product-specific. Those imposed on online gambling, or the so-called “electronic lotteries”, are based on the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the operators. The GGR is the overall money staked minus the profits paid to the winners.
Licensed online gambling operators are taxed at a rate of 40% of their GGR while landbased ones pay at a rate of 30%, again based on GGR. Certain operations are taxed on the basis of their net gambling revenues (NGR).
Such is the case with slots and video lottery terminals (VLT) operated outside designated gaming venues. The operators of such machines must pay 10% of their NGR on top of municipal fees. Online and brick-and-mortar sports betting operations incur a tax of 2%, imposed on all stakes.
The Austrian government gives away around €80 million from sports betting taxes each year for the promotion of sports in the country in line with Sections 7 through 19 of the Federal Sports Promotion Act of 2013. The taxes on lottery games vary from as little as 2% to 27.5% of the stakes.
Player Protection and Gambling Regulators in Austria
Gambling in Austria is regulated both on a federal and provincial level. While the local legislation appears complex, it ensures a high level of security for local gamblers and allows them to choose from a nice variety of legal betting options. Online gaming laws largely coincide with those imposed on brick-and-mortar operations.
As is usually the case with laws, Austrian gambling legislation is subject to amendments over time. One example is the new Betting Act that came into force in Lower Austria in the summer of 2020.
The federal state of Burgenland is also expected to publish a new draft in 2021 to change its musty betting act which dates as far back as 1919. SuperCasinoSites will keep you posted in case any new amendments are made to the country’s current legislation.