The online gambling industry in Austria is far from straightforward. It’s not quite as strict and limiting as the United States and many forms of gambling are legal here, but they exist behind reams of red tape and this can make life very difficult for developers, casinos, and players. Keep reading to learn more about these laws, and take a look below to find the best online casinos in Austria.
Online Casinos in Austria
The number of online casinos in Austria is nowhere near as high as other major European countries. The laws governing these casinos have changed somewhat over the years and a number of top online casinos have actually fallen foul of them.
Bet-At-Home is a great example of this. It used to be one of the biggest players in the Austrian online casino industry, but it encountered issues and was forced to stop operations there. Basically, the Austrian government didn’t like the fact that it was using a Maltese gaming license to offer gambling services within Austria. This is actually very common and even now there are Austrian online casinos doing the same thing, but for whatever reason the authorities chose to single out Bet-At-Home and they paid the price for it.
Before we discuss the somewhat convoluted and restrictive gambling laws it’s worth noting that these don’t really impact on the average player as much as you might think. The government does not care about the players who risk a few Euros here and there. They put their efforts into shutting down the casinos that operate illegally and the payment providers that facilitate such operations.
So, even if you suspect that your chosen online casino may not be operating entirely within the realms of Austrian law, the issue is theirs, not yours, and you should be safe from prosecution—although you shouldn’t hold us to that statement.
Austrian Online Gambling Laws
Prior to the 2000s, gambling was tightly controlled in Austria and it was somewhat rare as a result. This was before the age of online gambling took hold—a time when it was much easier for authorities to keep track of all gambling that was taking place in a country.
Fast forward a few years and it was a different story. Online gambling was much more common and a number of sports books, poker sites, and casinos were operating within the country, usually with non-Austrian gaming licenses.
In the 2010s, with problem gambling on the rise, the government moved to put a halt to this. They made it very difficult for anyone to setup an online or offline casino, but they also made it clear that it was not illegal to gamble for small amounts of money. So, on the one hand they tightened their grip on the commercial casinos (both online and offline) but on the other hand they made it so that the average Austrian didn’t need to fear reprisal if they were arranging card games at home or placing bets with friends.
There are casinos operating legally within Austria, but there are limits on how many of these can exist, they all need licenses and they all have to abide by strict rules. This is all true of Austrian online casinos, which need to acquire specific licenses in order to operate and can only offer their services to players within Austria.
Legal Gambling in Austria
The online gambling industry in Austria is very inclusive at first glance, but there are non-Austrian casinos offering services to players in the country and while in practice gambling is tightly controlled, in reality the laws are a little looser. You should not have an issue gambling online or offline if that’s what you want to do, but it’s certainly not a gambling mecca and anyone used to the gambling laws of countries like the UK will be very surprised with how the Austrian markets differ.
What Makes a Good Austrian Online Casino?
The best Austrian casinos are the larger, European casinos that allow Austrians to join. As mentioned already, these are somewhat rare, but they do exist and you can signup by clicking on the respective names in our rating casino list above.
Austrian casinos are good as well, and they operate 100% legally and within the confines of Austrian law. However, the fact that they have fewer members means they have less money and less competition, which in turn means they tend to offer smaller bonuses, fewer games, and less impressive features.
These casinos are okay if they are your only option, as some gambling is better than no gambling. They are safe, they are legal, they are fair, and they tick a lot of boxes. But if you want a real online gambling experience then we would recommend focusing on major European online casinos first.
You can find the best of these above. Just make sure you read our online casino reviews first, as these will give you a more detailed rundown of how the casino operates.
What Makes a Bad Austrian Online Casino?
A bad one is one that either isn’t legally allowed to operate, has the sole intent of ripping a customer off, or simply doesn’t offer anything decent. Scams are rare, but Austrian online casinos with limited features and playability are not. These are rife, which is why it’s always best to do your research and to make sure you see what is out there before you rush to signup.
The bonuses will typically give the best and quickest indicator of how big a casino is and what it can offer you as a player. Does it have a small matched deposit bonus that comes with a huge play-through rate? If the answer is yes, then there is a good chance the casino game’s room will be equally small and unimpressive.
Of course, if there is no bonus at all (and single country casinos are known to completely omit bonuses) then you should be prepared to run a mile. There is simply no point signing up to a casino that doesn’t offer you anything when there are thousands out there that do.