Both real-world and online casinos operate throughout Croatia thanks to favourable gambling laws that do not overly restrict the industry. Laws passed in 2010 formally legalized Croatian casino sites and paved the way for land-based casinos to expand to the internet. International online casinos are also able to operate within Croatia with no trouble from the government.
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Gamblers therefore have a wide variety of options as far as choosing where to play. There are several options for domestic gambling sites in Croatia, but many people choose to play at large international casino websites in order to take advantage of better game selection, bigger bonuses and an overall higher level of quality.
The Croatian government has a process by which online casinos can become fully licensed, but the requirements are difficult to meet as only entities that operate land-based casinos in Croatia may apply for a license. However, the government does not attempt to prevent casino websites located in other countries from accepting customers based in Croatia. The end result is that players have many options, both international and domestic.
Hrvatska Lutrija operates Croatia’s national lottery and a casino website with slots, table games and video poker. Croatian betting operator Prva Sportska Kladionica also runs a sports betting website that accepts wagers on most of the world’s major sports. Both websites are safe and reputable, but their options are quite limited compared to the major online casinos that operate from other countries.
Fortunately, local authorities have also made no attempt to prevent customers visiting foreign gaming websites to date. There are no laws against participating in online gambling, banks are not ordered to block payments and the internet is not censored. From our perspective as players, the international market is free and open.
Croatia’s current gambling laws derive from the Ordinance on Interactive Online Casino Gaming passed in 2010. That legislation formally legalized Croatian casino sites and created a licensing system by which land-based casinos may extend their operations online. The requirement to have a physical presence has made it all but impossible for international casino sites to receive official licenses in Croatia.
The ordinance also spells out the regulations that licensed online casinos must follow in Croatia. For example, licensed operators must certify their random number generators (which are used to produce random results in online casino games), ban customers under 18 years of age, clearly explain the rules of the game and so on.
Overall, the regulations are fair and have so far helped to create a safe online gaming environment for players. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these regulations do not necessarily apply to gambling websites hosted in other countries. If you decide to visit a casino based out of some other country, that casino is subject to a completely different set of rules and regulations. This is why we tend to recommend casinos headquartered in the UK, which is home to the most demanding gambling oversight authority in the world.
New Croatian Gambling Laws Proposed in 2014
Croatian lawmakers introduced new gambling legislation to parliament in 2014 and then submitted the proposed legislation to the European Commission for approval later that year. The new laws sought to open the market to international competition, but also carried with it significant downsides.
On the positive side, the 2014 legislation would finally make it possible for international operators to achieve full legal status in Croatia. Even though the government does not seem to mind foreign online casinos serving the domestic market today, those casinos are not truly legal. A few of the bigger online casinos choose not to accept Croatian players due to the uncertainty of their legal status. Opening the market to competition would remove all doubt and give operators a clear path forward in Croatia to potentially give players even more choice.
On the negative side, the 2014 legislation seeks to impose new costs on both operators and players. The proposal would require casino sites to pay a licensing fee of HRK 3 million and then pay that same amount each year in licensing fees. Furthermore, players would be subject to new taxes on winnings.
If the 2014 legislation ever makes it into law, players would be subject to taxes of 10% on winnings from HRK 750 to HRK 10,000, 15% on winnings up to HRK 30,000, 20% on winnings up to HRK 500,000 and 30% winnings above that amount.
Although the law does not mention implementing new blocking mechanisms for unlicensed websites, the fact the law calls for such high fees raises the risk that lawmakers take more action to block access to unlicensed casino sites. This would be a bad thing for players, as we have plenty of options under the current status quo. It has now been more than two years since that proposal and there has not been any word on its status in the years since.
Deposit Options for Croatian Online Casinos
The government’s permissive attitude to online casinos in Croatia results in us having an easy time making deposits and getting paid. Funding your real money gambling account is as simple as pulling out your credit card and choosing an amount to deposit. You may also make deposits with debit cards, Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard, Entropay and direct bank transfers. These deposit methods are all inexpensive, easy-to-use and fast.
When you are done gambling and wish to withdraw your winnings, the casino will attempt to send the money back to you via whichever method you used to deposit. The one exception might be credit/debit cards as not all brands support customers receiving payments. In that case, you can simply have your casino site send the funds to your bank via electronic transfer, issue a cheque or credit your Skrill/Neteller account.
There is one minor disadvantage to playing at foreign casino sites in Croatia: none of the major casinos allow customers to hold their account balances in Croatian Kunas. When you deposit Kunas, the casino will automatically convert your money into Euros or Dollars for the duration of your visit. This is not a major problem, but it does sometimes make it more difficult to remember how much money you are winning and losing – so keep that in mind.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.