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Austria - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | August 25, 2020

Country specifics

For players, online gambling is simply a means to an end, which is mainly to get access to unlimited entertainment from anywhere at any time. The industry has seen tremendous growth over the years and with this growth a lot of change.

When it comes right down to politics and laws things can get quite tricky, depending on which country you are in. Some countries frown upon online gambling and take strict measures to block any and all forms of online gambling. Others embrace the industry with open arms and see it as another way to increase yearly revenue.

Online Gambling Regulations in Austria

Then there are countries like Austria which seem to have a rather interesting take on online gambling. The laws and regulations in this country are quite confusing and can leave players feeling unsure of whether or not they should partake in gambling activities online or not.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the legalities and help you understand the current legal situation in the country to help you make the best decisions regarding your gambling activities in Austria.

History and laws on gambling in Austria

Gambling is extremely popular in Austria, so much so in fact that the government had to put strict laws and regulations in place to maintain control over the market and curb possible gambling addictions.

In short summary, it can be said that the Austrian market is held in a firm grasp of government control, and while most forms of gambling are legal, there are a lot of restrictions placed on them. In fact, for all land-based and online casino activities, there are a limited number of licences in place.

When taking a look at the relevant legislation in Austria, the first thing you’ll notice is that monopolies are allowed to be established in the country by governing bodies, according to the Federal Constitutional Act of Austria.

All gaming and gambling activities taking place within the country are controlled by the rules and regulations put in place with the Austrian Gaming Act. The main aim of the Act is to ensure that gaming operators don’t violate security standards. It seems in Austria the biggest focus is to prevent any and all possibilities of gambling addiction. Although more recent information can create an argument where the country’s biggest concern is income.

The lottery market of the country is completely monopolised and only one operator has a licence to serve in this gambling area. When it comes to the general casino market there are certain conditions put in place that limit competition. There are only a handful of operators who have been granted a licence. They operate under strict legislation and are closely regulated.

Austria’s stance on online gambling

Online gambling, strangely enough, has quite a rich history in Austria seeing as many of Europe’s biggest and most profitable online gambling companies come from Austria, but have their headquarters situated in other ‘legal’ areas across the globe.

The Austrian government only grants licences to locally based companies, but these are also restricted and limited to accepting only local players. Since 2000, Austria has been on a mission to regain complete control over the gambling market. It is because of this that the government has gone out of its way to strictly regulate all land-based and online forms of gambling.

Currently, there is only one online gambling operator approved to provide local players with online casino and poker products, Win2Day. Ironically enough, this online brand is a subsidiary of Casinos Austria’s Österreichische Lotterien. Interestingly enough, Austrian law does not prohibit players from seeking entertainment on foreign licensed casino sites.

A new day is dawning for sports bettors as Austria’s second-most populous state, Lower Austria, unveiled new sports betting legislation in August 2019. This Betting Act is an update to the state’s existing law which dates back to 1978. The law covers all retail sports betting operations, betting terminals and online sports betting. If all goes well the new sports betting legislation will allow licensing of online operators for the first time.

Are winnings taxable in Austria?

One of the best things about taking part in online gambling activities in Austria is the fact that players are not required to pay any taxes on their winnings. However, this also means players cannot claim their losses. The point is that if you are an Austrian gambler you are not required to declare your gambling wins or pay tax on them.

Earlier in 2018, it came to light that the Austrian government has been cashing in royally with their taxation on international online gambling operators. This is quite odd news that boggles the minds of many, as the country has made it clear that they will not issue licences to these foreign operators.

According to reports, the government has collected at least €155m in taxes since 2011 from about 17 gambling operators. Most of these online casino sites are legally licensed in areas such as Gibraltar and Malta but do not have official Austrian Government approval to offer their services to players. Since 2011 all online gambling revenue has been taxed at 40% whether the site is licensed in Austria or not.

A tax dispute

Many big online operators have protested the tax as the Austrian government has made it clear it is uninterested in providing them with licenses. The protests are futile and the tax situation for many operators have gotten worse.

In most recent events the Austrian Tax Office has been making contact with operators from regions such as Malta. The government officials are requesting payment of back-dated taxes at the rate of 40% of GGR from these operators.

The result is that many operators are fleeing from the Austrian iGaming market as it is no longer considered sustainable. Some foreign operators have stopped accepting new registrations from Austria with immediate effect and others have completely closed off to the Austrian market.

Is online gambling legal in Austria?

As you can see, the laws and regulations regarding online gambling in Austria are quite clear but extremely confusing at the same time. The government refuses to grant licences to foreign operators yet they are not attempting to ban these sites out of the country. They have been toying with the idea of blocking ISPs but so far haven’t gone as far as actually doing it.

If you are an Austrian online gambler you can play at a foreign online casino without the fear of getting hunted down by the government. However, the number of online casinos available might soon decrease due to massive tax levies and discrepancies. Many top online casinos are withdrawing from the Austrian market due to heavy tax fees and requests for backdated payments.

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