Austrian online casinos are numerous even though only one company actually holds a license to offer gambling to the general public. As is the case in many European nations, the legal situation in Austria could best be described as “complicated.” Fortunately, things are simpler from our point of view as mere players: we can play online anywhere we want.
Where to Play Online in Austria Today
The Austrian government has for years tried to enforce a monopoly over gambling despite multiple European Union rulings and opinions declaring said monopoly illegal. As a result, many casino sites based out of other EU nations happily accept Austrian customers and there’s not much the government can do about it. These casinos come complete with German-language versions of their websites and full support of euros for deposits and withdrawals.
In our experience, online casinos headquartered in other EU nations are the best option for Austrians as well. These foreign gambling sites may not hold Austrian gaming licenses, but they are highly regulated in their home countries and respected by their peers in the industry. As far as trust and security goes, the sites you see above are top of the line.
Depositing in Euros
The euro is one of the three standard currencies (along with USD/GBP) accepted by the vast majority of online casinos that serve the European market. As such, funding a real money account is as simple as making a purchase from any other online store. Actually, it’s even easier because the biggest Austrian casino sites accept upwards of a dozen different deposit methods.
Credit and debit cards are accepted by every major gambling site and those are the best options for anyone looking to get started today. Some of the other options you may see include Sofort instant bank transfers, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, iDebit, Paysafecard and Entropay.
All deposits should be processed free of charge since there will be no need to perform a currency exchange when you fund your account. You can also expect instant or near-instant deposits. If anyone does try to tack on a fee for depositing, it would probably be best to consider a different casino.
The Law and Austrian Casinos
Gambling is regulated at both the federal and state level in Austria. Each state has its own take on how casinos should be treated, but we won’t go too in-depth in our discussion of each state. If you have any questions about the legality of Austrian casino sites in your specific state, it would be best to seek professional legal counsel.
The driver of casino law at the federal level is the Law on Games of Chance (Glücksspielgesetz – GSpG). Section three of the law establishes the state monopoly over gambling while the remainder of the law describes in detail how casinos and gambling must be conducted in Austria. The law covers a wide range of topics such as requirements for applications to offer gambling, how the industry should be monitored, taxes and more.
Federal law is worded such that up to 12 operators could theoretically be licensed for online casinos in Austria. However, Casinos Austria holds all 12 concessions and acts as a monopoly. This has caused considerable friction between the Austrian government and the EU which has ruled in the past that Austria’s monopoly is contrary to EU law. Court rulings dating back as far as 2010 have declared that Austria “lacks a transparent and competitive process for awarding the handful of permitted casino licenses.”
An opinion published by an Advocate General of the European Court in 2013 reaffirmed the same basic ideas presented in the 2010 ruling. The opinion piece made the point that on one hand, the government tries to justify the monopoly on the basis of consumer protection but on the other, permits Casinos Austria to engage in aggressive marketing efforts.
From the paper:
“Such an expansionist commercial policy is plainly inconsistent with an aim of achieving high levels of protection for consumers.”
Yet another Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in 2014 arrived at the same conclusion. In that ruling, the court acknowledged that anti-competitive restrictions on gambling may be justified if the state’s goal is to genuinely protect consumers, fight crime or minimize addiction.
However, the court found that Austria’s gambling laws are clearly aimed at maximizing tax revenue to the state. Austrian authorities may say their goal is to protect the public order, but “colossal expenditure” and an “aggressive advertising campaign” reveal the true intentions of the law.
The one form of gambling not protected by a state monopoly is sports betting. Federal law leaves the matter of licensing and monitoring sports betting up to each state. Operators looking to open betting shops or even online sportsbooks must go through each state for a license and permission to operate.
The good news for players is the government only really protects the casino monopoly in the real world. Austrian casino sites located in other nations are able to accept players without repercussion; the government does not censor the internet, block payments or target players with penalties for playing with offshore providers.
It seems likely the law will change at some point, because nothing the government is doing right now is working out very well. Austria has a monopoly that is only halfheartedly enforced, the government loses out on tons of potential tax revenue to foreign providers and the EU consistently rules against the monopoly. It seems inevitable that someone in government will finally conclude there could be a better way to manage gambling in Austria.