Austria permits most forms of gambling both in real life and online. The government exercises tight control over gambling in the country with a litany of rules, regulations and restrictions. Fortunately, it is the gambling operators who have to deal with the legal red tape and not you.
All you have to do is pick a site and go play. Austria’s national lottery has a monopoly over online gambling within the country, but citizens are not restricted to that one brand. You have dozens of other options that are, quite frankly, superior to what the Austrian government has on hand.
Playing for Real Money in Euros
The best Austrian betting sites are able to process both deposits and withdrawals in Euros. Additionally, they can accept deposit methods designed specifically for Austrians. These would include EPS (Netpay) and Sofort in addition to other options such as PayPal, Skrill, Ukash and credit cards.
Personally, I trust these sites with my money just as much as I would with Austrian Lotteries. They may be foreign to us, but these are major European brands with millions of customers. A couple are even traded on the London Stock Exchange. Even better is the fact that these sites have decades of experience in providing games, processing transactions, managing gambling accounts and maintaining security for the customers.
If you win money, your withdrawal will be processed by each site within 24 hours. From there, the site will either send the money directly to your bank account or back to your e-wallet. The total turnaround time for most players is about 2-3 days.
The availability of games at these sites covers everything from poker to sports betting to traditional casino gambling. If you’re interested in poker, you should most definitely go with one of the sites recommended above as they are allowed to combine player pools from multiple countries. Austrian Lotteries only accepts customers from Austria and suffers a much smaller player pool as a result.
Gambling Laws in Austria
The gambling laws in Austria revolve mostly around who can offer what types of games for what stakes and where. As far as individual players are concerned, it’s simple. You can play online with the government-sponsored monopoly or at any of the other sites such as those recommended above.
Real-world gambling is available across Austria as well. Poker, slot machines, card games and all the other common types of gambling games are legal. However, there are a myriad of restrictions related to the stakes that can be offered and where these games can be played.
Austrian gambling law differentiates between two different levels or stakes of play. Smaller games with stakes of 50 cents or less can be played anywhere and offered by anyone. This includes casual card games among friends as well as slot machines in which the maximum wager is no greater than 50 cents.
You can find these types of little casino clubs all over the place. They’re not fancy by any stretch and are oftentimes found in seedier parts of the city. But, they do have their appeal for anyone interested in a little low stakes action.
Larger games played with stakes greater than 50 cents are restricted to proper casinos. Casinos Austria holds the sole license to operate these types of casinos, of which there are twelve in the country. Step foot into any Casinos Austria property and there’s no comparison to the other type. These are full-fledged gambling resorts complete with players clubs, fine dining, entertainment and dress codes.
Internet gambling in Austria is also heavily regulated. In 2012, the government awarded a single 15-year gaming license to Austrian Lotteries, which is a part of the Casinos Austria group. This is the only Austrian company allowed to legally offer internet poker, casino games and sports betting to citizens. It is also the only internet gaming company allowed to advertise in Austria. The casino website is located at www.win2day.at.
Citizens, on the other hand, are under no obligation to play at Win2Day. We can play there if we choose, but we’re also free to play at any of the major international brands based out of other parts of Europe.
Austria’s monopoly over both land-based gaming and internet gaming has drawn criticism from competitors and EU courts alike. Back in 2012, Austria supposedly opened its internet gaming industry to private companies with a licensing process.
I say supposedly because the whole thing was rigged to make it impossible for anyone except Austrian Lotteries to get a license. Basically, the government wanted to institute a monopoly without having to say “we want a monopoly.” The companies Bet-at-Home, Lotelo and Bandal challenged the legality of the monopoly and licensing process. Austrian courts ruled against these companies in 2013 and kept the monopoly in full force.
More recently, the European Union found Austria’s gambling laws noncompliant with European Union laws. As a member of the European Union, Austria is bound to uphold free trade and encourage competition between member states. This goes for gambling as well as commerce and other matters.
However, the EU does recognize member-states’ sovereignty in determining gambling laws. For example, a state has the right to ban gambling across the board or enact certain restrictions for the protection of players. What a country cannot do is implement laws that protect domestic companies at the expense of foreign competitors.
The Court of Justice for the European Union found that Austria’s laws were aimed at protecting the monopoly rather than protecting players. Austria has yet to react to the EU’s ruling so we’re still waiting to see what happens with that.