Austria is a gambling-friendly member nation of the European Union, situated in Central Europe. The country of nine million has a thriving gambling industry, with both Austria gambling sites and land-based establishments legal and regulated. However, the country’s policies in this department have been the subject of minor controversy.
Foreign gaming providers have challenged the decision to monopolize the online gambling market, allowing only locally-licensed Austria gambling websites to offer gaming services to their citizens. In fact, the government has stepped in to shut down and ban online sites hosted beyond their borders in the past, despite owning a license from another EU jurisdiction.
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Austria has a few legal features that make their regulatory process unique. The lottery, slot machines, and commercial casinos are all subject to a national gambling monopoly and are heavily regulated under the federal Gambling Act. Meanwhile, Austria sports betting and “games of skill” are the responsibility of provincial governments. Which activities fit under the title “games of chance” and are thus monopolized by the Gambling Act and which are considered “skill” is decided on a case-by-case basis.
We’ll be giving Austria’s gambling laws and history a closer look in the upcoming sections, but before we dive in, you’ll need to find a reliable, legitimate Austrian gambling site. You may have noticed the list of recommended websites just above the previous paragraph. That’s the perfect place to start your search, for all the reasons we’re about to explain.
Why Are Those Sites Recommended?
Behind the scenes at LegitGamblingSites.com, there’s a team of experts with decades of experience from all over the gaming industry. This group is dedicated to vetting every gambling operator they can find, identifying and sharing only the highest-rated Austrian gambling sites with our readers. We’ve even written an article about the process, detailing how we determine legitimacy.
A wide range of qualities play a role in an Austrian online gambling site’s score for their review, whether we recommend them to our readers, and where they rank amongst our recommendations. The following sub-sections cover some of the fundamental characteristics we demand, though they only represent a small sampling of everything considered.
Locating and sharing safe, secure, and legitimate gaming providers to our readership is the highest priority of this website. To be one of Austria’s best gambling sites, a location must be proven to operate in an ethical and legitimate manner consistently.
It may seem like an obvious trait, but with so many scammers out there preying on unsuspecting novice bettors, keeping a verified list of safe gaming spaces for readers to use is an extremely urgent matter. We are continually monitoring for red flags and finding rogue operations to blacklist, so that you may never encounter anything but the best sites.
We even dig into the terms and conditions and other legal mumbo jumbos to verify that everything is on the up-and-up and that they’re not sneaking anything unfair into the fine print.
Positive History and Reputation
Part of our process involves thoroughly researching the backgrounds of the corporations and entrepreneurs that own the various Austrian gambling sites. We verify that the owners haven’t been connected with any scam websites in the past and that they’re currently licensed and compliant in a jurisdiction with real rules and regulations.
Additionally, we study customer reviews written by current and former members of the specific site. Our team looks for any patterns of behavior or alarming trends such as slowing payout timelines or a recent increase in complaints about things like customer service response time or canceling bets unfairly.
Friendly to Winners
Speaking of canceling bets, there are some disturbing practices occurring throughout the industry which victimize winners. Some Austrian gambling websites will make ridiculous accusations and use faulty logic to explain why they’re canceling tickets and refusing to pay out earnings.
For example, if a gambler wins a large bet, website administrators will accuse the player of being a professional bettor, which – for some reason – is meant to justify their unfair, anti-winning actions. Other times they’ll claim “software malfunction,” something that conveniently never happens to change losing wagers into winners.
The best Austrian gambling sites listed above are some of the most winner-friendly sites on the market. If you want a site that is well known for paying out deserved winnings, these sites are where you’ll want to play.
One of the most crucial metrics to judge an Austrian gambling site by is their average payout speed. How quickly a provider accepts and processes withdrawal requests tells us a ton about the kind of business they’re running. Operators who apply unreasonably low cash-out limits or consistently delay the payout procedure are usually on their way to becoming outright scams.
Is Gambling Legal in Austria?
Yes; all the standard forms of gambling are legal in some way or another, including the Top Austrian gambling sites listed above. The EU state keeps their gaming industry under strict control, despite allowing almost every kind of gambling within their restrictions.
What makes Austria gambling laws interesting is the way they separate acts of gambling. If the outcome of a game is considered to be wholly or predominately based on luck, it requires the player to “buy-in” for the opportunity to win money, and is owned and organized by a commercial business interest, it’s defined as a “game of chance” and thus subject to the country’s gambling monopoly.
Casino games, slot machines, lotteries, and poker are all included in the federal Gambling Act and are monopolized markets under the authority of the Minister of Finance.
Brick-and-mortar casinos are similarly regulated, only the Austrian government makes 15 licenses for these establishments available, instead of just one, creating an oligopoly in the casino marketplace.
Online gambling in Austria is legal as part of the lottery license. There aren’t any unique web-based legal requirements; the sole operator may merely provide their services online legally as an extension of their license.
Slots are generally included in the gambling monopoly; however, there are some exceptions. Provincial games with slot machines can exist outside of the controlled Gambling Act regulations, as long as both stakes and potential winnings are limited to within pre-defined values. Players may stake no more than EUR10 per play or have the potential to win more than EUR10,000.
If the player has a level of control over the outcome, such as in sports betting, the Gambling Act does not apply. However, these wagers are still subject to specific requirements and are regulated at the provincial level. For example, one law states that a player may not exceed a total of ten individual sports bets at any one time.
To date, the EU Commissions have sided with Austria, supporting their controlled monopolies and regulatory restrictions against foreign site operators hoping to open the Central European nation up to outside competitors.
How Does Austria Regulate Gambling?
Austrian Gambling Act
Austria’s most recent gambling law was signed into effect during the summer of 2010. Since then, the country has enforced strict controls over Austria gambling sites and land-based gaming establishments. Anything deemed to be based more on chance than skill is included in the bill and is thus subjected to the country’s enforced monopolies and licensing restrictions.
Most gambling activities are included as part of the Austrian Gambling Act. This piece of legislation governs casinos, lotteries, slots, poker, and online gaming by allowing a single provider to monopolize each market. Casinos are a slight exception, allowing for an oligopoly by limiting licensing to 15 corporations instead of just one.
Casino and lottery licenses alike are valid for 15 years maximum. Once they expire, the Ministry of Finance decides which providers are awarded the next monopolies over the various markets.
To determine whether a form of gambling is covered by the Gambling Act, it must first be determined if the activity is defined as a game of chance or one of skill. Austrian authorities see any game with a large percentage of luck involved as a “game of chance,” even if there is skill involved. For example, poker is included in the Gambling Act regulations.
The Ministry of Finance, the authoritative body charged with monitoring and licensing Austria’s gaming industry, is also responsible for determining the status of a game, whether it’s skill-based or mere chance. Any wagers that fall outside of their jurisdiction are the responsibility of the individual state governments and their regional laws.
It’s important to note that the language in this law dictates the number of permits available and determines which regulatory bodies control which markets but covers nothing concerning the individual bettor. The act prohibits foreign operators from providing access to local citizens – punishable by fine – but does nothing to prosecute residents accessing offshore gambling websites in Austria.
Black market estimates suggest that nearly 50% of the online gambling done in Austria is through an illegal foreign provider licensed outside of the country. As they’re currently written, the laws don’t authorize the government to order ISPs to block offshore domains, nor do they expressly prohibit banks from processing transactions between Austrian account holders and illegal gambling websites. However, banks can be fined for purposely allowing payments to unlicensed providers.
The Federal Minister of Finance
The Ministry of Finance has a wide range of responsibilities related to the regulation, licensing, and ongoing monitoring of the markets and online gambling sites in Austria. Their primary stated objectives are the following:
- Preventing organized crime, including money laundering, financing terrorism, etc.
- Preventing crimes like theft, burglary, and fraud from being committed by gambling addicts
- Protection of the youth
- Consumer Protections
- Financial market stability; preventing scams
This group is also the authority on labeling individual games. If luck or chance are significant factors in the wager’s outcome, the activity will most likely be considered a “game of chance,” meaning it falls under the Austrian Gambling Act and the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.
Beyond deciding the status of individual games, this regulatory group also chooses and licenses the providers for gambling monopolies and gambling sites in Austria. Before rewarding a permit, the Ministry must verify that the operator fulfills the entire licensing criteria and pays the application fees.
They must also continually supervise the legal gaming operations to ensure they’re in compliance with the country’s consumer protection and anti-gambling-addiction laws. For example, states may not have more than one slot machine for every 1,200 residents. There are also advertising restrictions in place for businesses permitted to offer gambling services.
The Ministry of Finance also has the right to withdraw any of their licenses as well as confiscate any gaming machines such as slots if they’re found in violation of any regional or federal laws.
Games of Chance
So that there’s not any confusion, here is a list of familiar games and gambling activities that are considered “games of chance,” meaning they’re included in the Gambling Act and related gambling monopolies:
- Online gambling
- Two aces
- Scratch Cards