Slovenia, officially known as the Republic of Slovenia, is a country situated in Central Europe. Gambling is definitely one of the industries that have gone through several changes throughout the history of the country. That said, there are still many changes that need to happen to transform the gambling sector in Slovenia into a fully regulated and legal industry.
Being a part of former Yugoslavia, it is natural that Slovenia started establishing its own legislative framework only after the country gained its independence. For several years after Slovenia claimed its independence, gambling was an unregulated industry.
In 1995, the country started properly regulating land-based casinos and gaming halls, implementing a Gambling Act that is still governing this industry. In addition to casino games, other forms of land-based gambling were also legalized, leading the gambling industry of Slovenia to a more regulated future.
Online casinos have also been legalized in Slovenia but the country is still taking a rather restrictive approach to offshore operators. That said, there have been talks of introducing a new bill that would liberalize the overall gambling industry in Slovenia, including the online sector.
History of Gambling in Slovenia
1Back in time
Back in the days of Yugoslavia, gambling used to be legal only for tourists and land-based casinos on the territory of the country could be entered only by people who had foreign passports. Nowadays, even though the gambling scene has changed drastically, the Slovenian gambling industry is still heavily dependent on tourists.
In the years following the launch of casinos in Yugoslavia for tourists, the federation became more accepting of the idea of lottery games. The main reason for that was that a portion of the money collected through lotteries was distributed to cultural, sport, and social organizations. What is more, the prizes awarded through lottery games were not of a high monetary value and tickets were not that expensive so there was not any real threat to the finances of workers.
Up until 1998, Slovenia lacked a proper policy for the gaming industry or the way it is supposed to be governed or developed. The years following 1985 until the end of the privatization period were quite turbulent for the gambling industry which was growing at a rapid pace.
By the mid-’90s, the government of Slovenia was aiming to deteriorate the privatization of casino companies as they were following federal law. Meanwhile, the local government had a different vision for the way casinos should have been going through the privatization process. This led to many conflicts between casino owners and politicians.
In 1995, the Slovenian Gaming Act was passed, which is currently the main piece of legislation governing this industry in Slovenia. The said law sets up the difference between classic gambling and casino gambling. According to the Gaming Act, lotteries, as well as lotteries offering instant prizes, bingo, lotto, quiz lotteries, sports betting, and other similar activities fall under the definition of “classic gambling”. These types of gambling can be organized only by two exclusive operators – Loterija Slovenije (The Lottery of Slovenia) and Sportna Loterija (The Sports Lottery). It is also allowed for non-profit as well as humanitarian organizations to also conduct lotteries, bingo, or raffles but such events are not permitted to be held more than once a year. The licenses for classic gambling games are issued by the Minister of Finance.
The law also sets up two different types of entities that can offer special gambling forms. These include casinos and gaming halls, with casinos being allowed to run an unlimited number of slots and casino games, while gambling halls are restricted to operating only up to 100-200 slot machines.
32003 and 2004
Through amendments in the law, in 2003 the gambling industry in Slovenia became more oriented towards domestic gambling while tourist gambling was not prioritized as much. In 2004, Slovenia joined the EU and was required to set up a gambling legislation model to comply with the internal market principles of the EU.
In 2012, Slovenia was working towards the implementation of a new act that was supposed to regulate online gambling in the country. The law was planned to comply with the relevant EU regulations and was supposed to be implemented in 2014. The final result was total confusion with online gambling remaining completely unregulated until 2016. That year a law was passed, legalizing online casinos. However, the only online casino license that was issued was awarded to Casino Portorož. Unfortunately, private companies are still not able to apply for an online casino license.
At the end of 2021, a draft of a new Gambling Act was submitted, with lawmakers hoping to introduce some changes to the current legal system. If the new act is to be passed, this could mean a more liberal gambling environment, with foreign investors being allowed to join the gambling market in Slovenia.
Gambling Regulations in Slovenia
After Slovenia gained its independence, the gambling industry in the country was not properly regulated for several years. In 1995, however, the country introduced the Gaming Act (Zakon o igrah na srečo), with this still being the main piece of legislation regulating gambling in Slovenia. Of course, as the gambling industry is constantly evolving, this law was amended several times to ensure proper regulations. In fact, Slovenia is considering a new amendment of the law in 2022 that is supposed to make the gambling industry in the country more inclusive.
Under the Gaming Act, land-based casinos and gaming halls in Slovenia are allowed to operate, provided they have obtained a license from the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia. Although these operations have been legalized, there are certain restrictions that gambling operators must abide by. The Gaming Act allows brick-and-mortar casinos to operate numerous table games and an unlimited number of slots. However, gaming halls are permitted to operate only between 100 and 200 slot machines. In addition to that restriction, gaming halls are not allowed to offer any other types of games.
Under Article 83 of the Gaming Act, the legal age in Slovenia to enter a gambling facility and participate in casino-style activities is 18 years. That said, there are no age restrictions for other types of gambling offered in the country.
In 2014, Slovenia joined the EU, which meant that the gambling legislation in the country must be compliant with the directives implemented by the EU. As a member of the EU, Slovenia is required to abide by Article 56 TFEU 2 and Article 8 of Directive 98/34/EC. Unfortunately, the way Slovenia is currently governing gambling does not meet the EU’s requirements for free trade.
In 2016, the country legalized online casinos but the issue with the sector comes from the fact that only one operator was permitted to run a virtual casino. Currently, there is no licensing system that allows other operators to apply for permission to legally run virtual casinos in Slovenia. What is more, the country is taking strict actions against foreign gaming sites, blocking access to any other virtual casino other than the single one that is licensed to operate in Slovenia.
The country’s restrictive approach to online gambling is definitely contradictory to the EU and EEA directives. As the EU pressured Slovenia to amend its current gambling policy, the Slovenian government is currently working on implementing several changes to the Gaming Act. The new law is planned to make both offline and online gambling in the country more inclusive and compliant with EU directives.
Gambling Licensing Body in Slovenia
Currently, land-based casinos and gaming halls in Slovenia are allowed to operate in the country only after they have received a license from the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia. It should be noted that the number of casino and gambling hall licenses is limited and once it is reached, other operators cannot apply for a license.
Currently, the law allows for 15 land-based casinos to operate on the territory of Slovenia, while the number of gambling halls has been capped at 45. Both types of license limits have been reached and currently, it is not possible for new operators to apply for a casino or gambling hall license. That said, the maximum number of gambling licenses is updated almost every year, which means that it is possible for new casino or gambling hall licenses to be issued soon.
Provided new opportunities for casino or gaming hall licenses appear, those who wish to apply can find more information on the official websites of the regulatory body. Conveniently enough, the website of the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia is available in English.
Gambling Taxes in Slovenia
While winnings generated through gambling do not incur any taxes, operators of land-based casinos and gaming halls are required to pay taxes. The general gambling tax that is levied on the gross gambling revenue may range between 5% and 18%. The tax rate depends on the type of game offered by the operator.
Gambling companies in Slovenia are also required to pay a concession or license fee which may range between 5% and 45%. This type of fee is also based on the gross gambling revenue, with the rate also depending on the type of games offered by the operator. Another type of tax that brick-and-mortar gambling operators may be required to pay is levied on gambling winnings if the prize’s value exceeds €300. In that case, a 15% tax is applied on winnings.
Of course, gambling companies are also required to pay other types of taxes, such as a 19% corporate tax. One exception is VAT as the gambling industry in Slovenia is exempted from this type of tax.
Some forms of gambling have been operating in Slovenia even before the country gained its independence. After the country was no longer a part of Yugoslavia, the gambling industry was operating for several years without being properly regulated. In 1995, however, the Gaming Act of Slovenia was enacted, legalizing and regulating land-based casinos and gaming halls.
The Gaming Act is still the main piece of legislation that governs gambling in Slovenia. Of course, it has been amended several times throughout the years to fit the constantly evolving gambling industry. While land-based forms of gambling have been legalized in 1995, this sector is quite restricted, with the law imposing a limit on the number of licenses that can be issued to land-based casinos and gaming halls.
For quite some time, online gambling in Slovenia was illegal and unregulated. The only form of online gambling that was available in Slovenia until 2016 was online lotteries and sports betting, strictly provided by the state-owned Loterija Slovenije and its subsidiary Sportna Loterija. In 2016, online casino gambling was legalized but only one operator was permitted to run a virtual casino, with no other company being allowed to apply for an online casino license.
As the current gambling legislation in Slovenia is contradictory to the EU’s directives, the country was pressured to amend its policies. This is the reason why Slovenia is considering passing a new Gaming Act in 2022, allowing a more inclusive and fair gambling industry.