Austria is famous for many things, some more renowned than others. One of their lesser-known exports is casino software, specifically slot providers. Novomatic is just one of several top producers which hail from the country. While Austria may be known to have a few software developers, what is the legal landscape like when it comes to betting online?
Is Online Gambling Legal in Austria?
The European nation has a somewhat restrictive view of online gambling operations. While lavish wagering on high stakes games is outlawed everywhere save for land-based, brick-and-mortar casinos; small stakes gambling games are permitted online. It is worth noting that operators who offer gambling games for extremely low stakes (€0.50 or less), no license is required at all. There are a few more ins and outs to it than that, though.
For starters, there is no one clear interpretation of the country’s gambling act (Glücksspielgesetz). It differs from region to region, as is common in a federal state. However, the general rules dictate that online gambling (with small sums of cash) is legal in Austria, provided the operator carries an Austrian gambling license. The gambling laws in the country ensure that a monopoly is held on online gambling businesses. This monopoly only favours national websites and is administered by the Österreichische Lotterien GmbH (Austrian National Lottery). It massively affects the types of sites that can be played rather dramatically, as you will see.
Austrian Online Casinos
Any Austrian-based casino operator is eligible to apply for an Austrian gambling license. These licenses permit casinos to offer their online and mobile services to players within the country, but there is a catch – only players resident in Austria can play. Austrian citizens residing abroad are not welcomed at Austrian licensed casinos, for instance.
Given that Austrian casinos must adhere to a strict set of rules and policies as dictated by the Austrian gambling commission, these casinos are not at liberty to flout these orders and accept players from outside the country. Even with a decent VPN (virtual private network), Austrians living outside of their homeland will have a hard time getting signed up at one of those casinos.
Austrian online casinos will naturally be playable in German and will use the euro (EUR) currency. They will also likely provide banking options which include VISA, PayPal, UseMyFunds, MasterCard, and, of course, Sofort. As touched upon earlier, Novomatic games tend to be immensely popular in Austrian online casinos, although games from other local providers can also be found there.
Offshore Casino Sites for Austrian Players
It is not impossible for players to join offshore casino accepting Austrian players, although it is frowned upon. The Austrian gambling authorities do not attempt to block access to offshore casinos, even though they do not host a valid Austrian license. Any foreign operator which does try and apply for an Austrian license (to make things squeaky clean and legally offer their services to Austrians) will be left out in the cold.
While a few offshore casinos have recently started to advertise their services in the country, most generally tend to shy away from appealing to Austrian players. Even so, few go all out to actively ban them. This means that, in theory, even without a good VPN (virtual private network), an Austrian player could easily access an offshore casino and sign up. The Austrian gambling authorities do not currently demand that ISPs (internet service providers) block offshore casinos, nor do they have punishments in place for residents caught gambling at such sites, so there is no danger in it.
Offshore casinos catering to Austrian players will commonly offer the German language, and the chances are good that they will already offer the euro currency anyway. Major payment methods such as credit cards and e-wallets will be acceptable to Austrian players. However, some of the more country-specific banking options they might expect to find in Austrian casinos may not be offered in offshore domains.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Not really. Most EU countries are, in effect, breaking European Union law by refusing to allow casinos in other EU states the right to offer their services to players in their country, and that includes Austria. However, operators have not yet successfully been able to convince the European Court of Justice to side with them. The Austrian online gambling industry is already heavily regulated from within, so it is unlikely to see too many changes occur at any point in the immediate future.
Given that Austrian players already have access to a wealth of offshore casinos, few are truly unhappy with the current situation.
Top Austrian Casino Sites
Any Austrian player residing in the country will already know exactly which official sites are out there and open to them. However, they may not be as clued in when it comes to the array of offshore casinos which can be played at.
Some of the more notable offshore casinos which are accepting of players from Austria include Paradise Casino, Cleopatra, PlayFrank Casino, SlotsMillion, Karamba, Casino Cruise, Video Slots Casino, No Bonus Casino and BGO Casino. Any of these sites would make an ideal place to start playing if you want to try something grander, and more flexible than the Austrian licensed casinos you may already know rather well.