It’s good to be a gambler in Austria. Games of chance are regulated at the federal level. Games of skill are not federally regulated but subject to provincial law. “Kleines Glücksspiel,” or small gambling, allows slots in small doses to be regulated by the provinces. We’ll get into the details of that below.
The federal gambling law in Austria is called “Glücksspielgesetz,” the Law on Games of Chance, or GSpG for short. It’s enforced by the Finance Ministry, which also gives out licenses for lotteries and casinos.
In 2017, an update to the GSpG was proposed that would block IP access to non-licensed online casinos. That would be a big hit to hometown online casino bwin, which doesn’t have a license. And while it should have been discussed in 2018, there’s no sign of it in 2019 so far.
Austrian Gambling Licenses and National Monopolies
Austrian gambling laws allow for one lottery license, currently given to Austrian Lotteries.
There are theoretically 15 casino licenses. Twelve have been given to Casinos Austria. The remaining three were initially given to other casino operators, but there was a question on whether that was in adherence with Austrian gambling law, so they were revoked. Casinos Austria was able to maintain its monopoly in the casino market.
Casinos Austria is also a major shareholder of Austrian Lotteries. This essentially gives Casinos Austria a monopoly in the land-based gambling market. Are they trying to influence the online gambling laws in Austria in their favor? Who knows?
Let’s take a closer look at how the Austrian gambling laws impact different types of betting.
Lottery Regulation in Austria
The first lottery held in Austria was in 1751 — and that game is still going! The “Genova Lottery,” or 1-90 number lottery, is a draw of five numbers out of 90. Originally run by a private company, it was taken over by the state in 1773. It has survived two world wars and was transferred to the Austrian Lottery in 1990.
A class lottery was introduced in 1912. Back in the day, you couldn’t place your bets online or by phone; you had to go to the town hall to buy your tickets, or you had to wait for a lottery representative to come to you. Once all the tickets were sold, then the drawing was held. This meant a lot of waiting.
To speed up the process, the lottery started selling “classes” of tickets and holding drawings for each class before giving away the final prize. The Austrian class lottery is still going strong today.
In 1986, Austrian Lotteries introduced the popular “6 of 45” drawing, which is now the most popular lottery drawing in Austria. The twice-weekly drawing has a record jackpot of over €15 million!
Now, Austrian Lotteries provides a variety of lottery drawings, toto sports betting, instant win cards, and other retail options. They participate in the multi-country Euro Millions lottery as well.
Austrian Slot Laws: Casinos vs. “Small Gambling”
While Casinos Austria has all the casino licenses, there’s a loophole for “smaller” companies. “Small Gambling” allows each province to allow slot salons under extremely limited conditions.
Casino gambling has no limits on the size of the wager, the number of machines in a casino, or how long a player can play.
Small gambling has strict rules about all of those things. A small gambling salon can have 50 machines at the most. The max bet is €10 for salons or €1 for rooms with just a few machines. Players are allowed to play for a maximum of three hours. Games must automatically shut off after two hours of uninterrupted play to help adhere to this part of the gambling law in Austria.
So we said this could give the little guy a foot in the door? There are some little guys, like Joker’s gambling salons. But the elephant in the room is Novomatic. The slotmaker has a 17% share of Casinos Austria but also has its own brand of Admiral salons.
In 2014, Novomatic advocated a central system for Casinos Austria that would only work with Novomatic machines. Luckily, this proposition never made it into law.
Poker Laws in Austria
Is poker a game of skill or a game of chance? The Austrian Finance Ministry officially classified it as a game of chance in 2013. Previously, poker clubs across the country ran games.
With the new definition, the Finance Ministry grandfathered in many poker clubs through 2020. After that, you’ll only be able to get your poker fix from a casino.
Austrian Sports Betting Regulations
Sports betting is where Austrian gambling laws get complicated. As a game of skill, sports betting is not regulated by the GSpG, but by the provinces. So each province has a separate sports gambling law.
Here are the most important aspects for the player for each province.
Lower Austria and Burgenland have no restrictions on sports betting. Enjoy!
Tyrol and Vorarlberg allow sports betting from 6 AM to midnight. Sometimes, the hours can be extended for special international events, like the Olympics.
Styria doesn’t have any time restrictions, but it does limit what kinds of bets can be placed. Bets on death or injury and virtual events are not allowed. No dead pools — Wade Wilson would be sad. Additionally, live bets can only be placed on halftime scores, end scores, and who makes the next goal in soccer and ice hockey.
Carinthia has the same live betting rules as Styria. It does not allow you to bet on criminal activity but is silent about deaths and injuries. Finally, betting terminals need to be off from 2 AM to 8 AM.
Salzburg only allows bets of €500 or less. No betting on death, injury, virtual events, horse racing, other animal events, or amateur human sports. Football bets can be placed on the first through third professional leagues. Live bets follow the Styrian model.
Upper Austria also has a bet limit of €500 and hours from 6 AM to midnight. They follow the Styrian live betting rules as well and don’t allow bets on deaths or injuries.
Vienna limits betting hours from 6 AM to midnight. No bets on death, injury, dog racing, or animal events. Same limits on live betting: halftime, end result, and the next goal. Here’s the kicker: no comps!
Austrian Online Gambling Laws
Online gambling laws in Austria follow land-based ones. Online slots are allowed by licensed Austrian operators, specifically Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries through the site win2day.
Right now, Austria still allows access to online casinos that are not licensed in Austria. That includes sites with no license at all as well as sites licensed in other countries. So you still have a variety of casinos to choose from, with all the risk that entails. Our European online casino rankings can help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
Sports betting is not covered by Austrian online gambling laws, which is what allowed bwin to flourish. In this area, you’re free to choose the provider you prefer.
We’ve made that decision-making process easier with our European online sportsbook rankings. We know how hard it is to find the right site, with the best odds and a great sign-up bonus. Our rankings cover all that, along with security and reputation, to get you a head start on your research.
Where Can I Gamble in Austria?
As mentioned, there are 12 casinos, a variety of small gambling salons, and poker rooms for your land-based gaming desires. Here’s a quick list of what’s available where.
Burgenland – Salons
Carinthia – Casino, Salons, Poker
Lower Austria – Casino, Salons, Poker
Upper Austria – Casino, Salons, Poker
Salzburg – Casino, Poker
Styria – Casino, Salons, Poker
Tyrol – Casino, Poker
Vorarlberg – Casino, Poker
Vienna – Casino, Poker
Please note that this list may not be comprehensive, as new businesses can start at any time, and existing salons or poker rooms may close without our knowledge. Additionally, we are not lawyers, so please consult an expert for any questions about the details of gambling laws in Austria.
Austrian gambling laws are both national and provincial. While they look complicated, the gambling laws in Austria give players a good variety of games while offering a high level of safety. The online gambling laws in Austria reflect the land-based ones, leaving interesting opportunities open to sports bettors and online casino fans alike.
We are concerned about the update to Austrian online gambling laws. As we see in other countries, restricting access doesn’t always protect players. But if the legislation is really trying to protect a monopoly’s margin, then the update may be very successful after all.