The German-speaking country Austria, situated in Central Europe, is widely known and visited for its mountainous communities, eastern hillside vineyards, rocky Alpine terrain, the Hofburg and Schönbrunn palaces, the northern Bohemian Forest, Imperial history, Baroque architecture, and Traunsee Lake. In addition to its already remarkable characteristics, the country’s gambling industry is one of the largest and well-regulated in the whole world.
In 1938, Adolf Hitler appended Austria with the Anschluss to the German Reich. Austria became independent after World War II and became the Second Austrian Republic in 1955. Exactly 40 years later, Austria joined the European Union.
Throughout these years of ups and downs, gambling existed in the country but considerably minimal. As far back as 1884, the construction of the very first Austrian casino commenced in place of the ancient Theresienbad spa. Meanwhile, the building was constructed as a permanent spa destination for Emperor Franz I and as the Imperial family’s summer stay. The plans of the building were made by architects Maximilian Katscher and Eugen Faßbender.
Between the World Wars I and II, the Theresienbad spa remnants were eventually removed. Accordingly, Joseph Fischer made plans for a dining hall. By 1934, the buildings were completely renovated into what is known today as Casino Baden – which opened on 12 April 1934. However, the casino shut down during the World War II but reopened in mid-1955 because the area housed the Russian headquarters. The casino was relocated and refurbished in 1968 and 1977 respectively. In 1995, Casino Baden reopened as the biggest casino in the entire continent of Europe. In 2007, the casino renovated its gaming halls and restaurant. Casino Baden is not the only historical casino in Austria. Casino Bad Gastein also opened as far back as 1937.
It closed in 1938 but reopened in 1950. Historically, Casino Bad Gastein was the first casino to open after the war. The casino relocated thrice until 1984 when it situated its properties at the Grand Hotel de l’Europe.
Pertaining gambling laws, the first noticeable approach dates back to 28 November 1989. This was when the gambling law, Gambling Act – GSpG, was added to the Austrian Federal Law on the nullification of the Federal Law on Life Insurance with Draw and on the alteration of the Federal Budget Law.
Further, during the early 2000s, the Austria government noticed the increasing gambling addiction rate amongst the citizens. As a measure, gambling was divided into two: the general gambling event where huge amounts of money are wagered and the Kleines Glüksspiel which means gambling with small stakes.
This unique model came with some specific laws. For one, the former can only take place in strictly regulated casinos while the latter can take place anywhere across the country, even places without a license. The maximum wager of the Kleines Glüksspiel is €0.50 per hand. The regular gambling can take place in casinos regulated according to the Glücksspielgesetz (Gambling Act or Law on Games of Chance) and licensed, regulated, monitored, and audited by the Austrian Ministry of Finance.
Concurrently, the laws are even more confusing than they sound. For instance, the Kleines Glüksspiel is illegal in Vienna. Additionally, the gambling facility must respect the population of its location, that is the number of gambling licenses cannot exceed one per 1200 people. For example, if there are 12,000 residents in City A, there can be a maximum of 10 gambling facilities in City A. Nevertheless, Vienna’s case is one license per 600 residents due to the dense population.
These laws might seem overwhelming but the government introduced and passed them to properly protect customers, prevent any criminal act especially money laundering, and – most especially – keep up market stability and the ever-growing gambling industry.
If there is a country that heavily permits gambling, Austria is that country. For one, all forms of gambling are completely legal, licensed by the Ministry of Finance, and regulated according to the Gambling Act – GSpG. Also, there are 59 gambling facilities (58 casinos and one racino) within the length and breadth of this Central European country.
The gambling facilities are mostly characterized by an intimate atmosphere, aesthetical properties, elegant ambiance, spectacular outdoor surroundings, special events, outstanding entertainment, and – most especially – excellent dining services. In actuality, Austria is one of the few countries where gambling activities are supercharged with other entertainment options. Most of the casinos – especially Casinos Austria and WINWIN casinos – offer first-class meals at restaurants and an opportunity to hang out at nightclubs – all included in the casino.
The 59 total gambling facilities in Austria are located in very distinct areas. Vienna has the most facilities: seven. Innsbruck offers four gambling facilities while Linz and Kufstein offer three casinos individually. There are two casinos each in Bregenz, Graz, Kitzbühel, Salzburg, Feldkirch, and Villach.
Wals-Siezenheim, Bad Gastein, Baden, Klagenfurt am Worthersee, Velden, Riezlern, Seefeld, Ebreichsdorf, Bruck an der Leitha, Gmunden, Krems, Hallein, Landeck, Lienz, Lienzen, Mayrhofen, Riezlern, Saalbach, Schärding, St. Pölten, Steyr, Vöcklabruck, Wels, Zell am See, Bischofshofen, Dornbirn, Feldkirchen in Kärnten, Schwaz, Telfs, Spittal an der Drau, and Worgl each feature a casino.
Furthermore, the largest gambling facility in Austria is Casino Bregenz – according to gaming properties. The casino offers 7 poker tables, 30 table games, and 295 gaming machines. The second largest casino is the ancient Casino Baden with 260 gaming machines, 6 poker tables, and 19 table games. Casino Wien is the third largest casino with 262 gaming machines and 21 table games.
However, Casino Baden is the largest casino in Austria and Europe according to land mass and other amenities. Summarily, the 12 largest casinos in Austria are owned by the Casinos Austria chain.
Mainly because Austrian casinos are either attached or very close to large, luxury hotels that attend to international visitors, they normally offer a wide variety of games and gambling activities. These options include slot machines, blackjack, American roulette, Tropical Stud poker, punto banco, French roulette, Joker Wheel, Texas Hold’em, Texas Hold’em No Limit, Omaha, Red Dog, electronic roulette, Texas Hold’em ½, Omaha Blind 2, 7-Card poker, Easy Hold’em with Extra “Combination 5”, mini roulette, and Multi-Roulette terminals.
Additionally, the many facilities of Concord Card Casino are poker hotspots with enormous poker varieties – and with 7-Card Poker and Texas Hold’em as the favorites. Also, there is a live poker tour called the Casinos Austria Poker Tour, run by Casinos Austria.
Bingo, on the other hand, is not particularly popular in Austria. So much that bingo falls under small gambling and not offered in the country’s many large casinos. Further, Magna Racino is the only racino in the country and offers both casino and racetrack options every Thursday and Sunday.
Sports betting is another popular form of gambling within the country. The country is located in Europe, therefore it is safe to say football (or soccer) is the most popular sports there. There are many betting shops offering numerous sports (especially football) betting options. Admiral Sportwetten is well-known amongst the multitude, with an extensive online sportsbook.
The lottery is also popular in Austria, and a state monopoly operated by the Österreichische Lotterien. There are 6/49, 6/45, Toto, EuroMillions, ToiToiToi, and Joker lottery games readily available.
All forms of online gambling are licensed and regulated as well. Operators are required to acquire a license under the Ministry of Finance. At the moment, Win2Day.at and Admiral Sportwetten are the only native license holders. However, Austrians, as well as visitors, are allowed to gamble on foreign online gambling websites. Therefore, online casino, bingo, lottery, sports betting, and poker are all legal in Austria.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Austria.
Admiral Casino Kufstein
Card Casino Graz
Casino Admiral Bischofshofen
Casino Admiral Dornbirn
Casino Admiral Feldkirch Grenzweg 10
Casino Admiral Feldkirchen in Kärnten
Casino Admiral Feldkirch
Casino Admiral Innsbruck
Casino Admiral Klagenfurt am Worthersee
Casino Admiral Prater
Casino Admiral Schutzenstrasse 48
Casino Admiral Schwaz
Casino Admiral Spittal an der Drau
Casino Admiral Telfs
Casino Admiral Villach
Casino Admiral Villach Ringmauergasse 14
Casino Admiral Worgl
Casino Bad Gastein
Casino Wien (Casino Vienna)
Concord Card Casino – Bregenz
Concord Card Casino – Gmunden
Concord Card Casino – Hallein
Concord Card Casino – Innsbruck
Concord Card Casino – Kufstein
Concord Card Casino – Linz
Concord Card Casino – Lugner City
Concord Card Casino – Saalbach
Concord Card Casino – Salzburg
Concord Card Casino – Simmering
Concord Card Casino – St. Pölten
Concord Card Casino – Vienna
Concord Card Casino Vienna
Magic Card Casino
Merkur Casino – Wien
Poker Royale – Kitzbuhel
Poker Royale Card Casino
WINWIN – Bruck an der Leitha
WINWIN – Krems
WINWIN – Kufstein
WINWIN – Landeck
WINWIN – Lienz
WINWIN – Mayrhofen
WINWIN – Salzburg
WINWIN – Scharding
WINWIN – Steyr
WINWIN – Vöcklabruck
WINWIN – Wels
WINWIN – Zell am See
– The minimum gambling age is 18 years.
– The Gambling Act – GSpG was passed on 28 November 1989.
– All forms of gambling are legal in Austria.
– In addition to Casino Baden and Casino Bad Gastein, Casino Bregenz is a part of the Casinos Austria chain and has been around since 1975.
– Casinos Austria have a total of 12 casinos across the country and they all open 364 days a year (with an exception of December 24th). The chain was founded in 1967 and has more than 40 land-based casinos, 15 slot parlors, and eight floating casinos situated in about 16 countries – with Austria as their most prioritized market. Their operations generate €300m annually as of 2017.
– Casinos Austria owns 68 percent of the Österreichische Lotterien and has more than 1,689 workers in Austria.
– In Austria, there is a Mega Million jackpot tied to the 12 Casinos Austria casinos which enable players to stand a chance of winning up to €1,000,000.
– Casino Baden is the largest European casino. It initially opened on 12 April 1934 before moving to the Kongresshaus in 1968 after World War II. In March 1995, the casino permanently reopened after a series of renovations.
– Casino Baden has welcomed the likes of Harold Junke, Naomi Campbell, Christine Kaufmann, Karl Spiehs, Sonja Kirchberger, Uschi Glas, Lotte Tobisch, and Christian Kohlund.
– The eleventh casino of Casinos Austria, Casino Graz, is the first casino to introduce 41. 41 is a local variation of poker introduced in the mid-1990s.
– Almost all casinos in Austria are owned by Casinos Austria, WINWIN, Casino Admiral, or Concord Card Casino.
– Established in 2004, WINWIN is a subsidiary of the Österreichische Lotterien Ges.m.b.H. and Casinos Austria AG.
– Win2Day.at is the first native Austrian online gambling website. It was founded in 2008 and operated by Casinos Austria and the Österreichische Lotterien.
– Betfair, Expekt, GoldBet, Bets4all.com, GW Bet, MagnaBet, Table66, Europlay International, Skill7, and Clover Betting are also licensed to provide online gambling in Austria.
– The online gambling laws of Austria permits only Austrian residents to gamble on Austria-based online gambling websites with an Austrian license. In 2011, Bet-at-Home was immediately prohibited after it was found that the website was operating with a Maltese gaming license.
– While poker is extremely popular throughout the country, bingo is the direct opposite. Poker is considered the poker destination of Europe.
– Bitcoin gambling is available in Austria. In fact, there are ATMs specially made to exchange Euro and Bitcoin called Bitcoin-Automat.
– On April 4th, 2004, Magna Racino was opened. Today, it is the only racino in the entire country. Magna Racino offers 150 gaming machines, sportsbook options, and a racetrack. Races hold from April through November on Thursdays and Sundays.
– In 2016, Win2Day.at signed a three-year deal with Playtech. This agreement enabled the brand to replace its old poker platform with an improved, cutting-edge platform.
– On 20 March 2017, Win2Day.at partnered with Finnish gaming brand Veikkaus to deliver a cross-border poker network by using liquidity separately from both player bases. This is the first of its kind.
– Austria is arguably the strictest country concerning online gambling. The European Union, because of this, had to investigate why the country strictly prohibited foreign online gambling sites from advertising. Well, Austria is now less strict and allows foreign websites to advertise.
– The Austrian government has been blamed by the European Union, other countries, and its subjects numerous times for the high rate of gambling addiction and gambling corruption in the country. Therefore, some suggest the gambling laws should be stricter while some suggest otherwise.