The Gambling Market of Croatia in 2020-2021
The Croatian gambling market is a promising niche in global gambling, which can surprise potential investors. The country has transparent laws, clear taxation system, and is of high interest to the world’s leading iGaming brands.
The gambling industry of Croatia began to develop right after the republic has declared independence in 1991. In the early 90s, one of the most famous casinos in Europe opened here. For example, the country's largest gambling establishment Mulino Lux Casino Hotel still operates in the Bui resort town, being part of a large-scale hotel complex of the same name.
It is worth noting that the Croatian government has at once identified tourism as one of the priority sectors of the economy.
The gambling industry was to develop on the sidelines of tourism and bring additional profit from gambling.
The state has never militated against the gambling business but, on the contrary, it has always been doing its best to support the casino industry, mostly, by setting clear and understandable rules and enacting relevant legislation.
Nowadays, gambling in Croatia is regulated by two basic regulatory documents:
- The Decree of Interactive Online Casinos, which entered into force in 2010. Its effect extends to the entire Internet business, the ultimate beneficiaries of which can be both national operators and foreign investors.
- The Gambling Act, adopted in 2014. It regulates mostly land-based gambling but some sections of the document are also devoted to the online business.
Since 2013, Croatia has been a member of the European Union, and all its laws adopted after this date are fully consistent with the EU standards. This rule also applies to the above-mentioned document of 2014. Thus, after operators have received a Croatian gambling license, they will be able to work legally on the whole territory of the EU. It is one of the main reasons for the country's popularity among foreign investors.
Common Types of Gambling
The legislation identifies four main categories of the land-based gaming industry:
- Sports betting. There are more than 400 land-based betting shops in the country.
- Slot machines are available in special gambling halls.
- Casinos. There are 10 major casinos in Croatia where there are poker, roulette, baccarat, and other board casino games.
- Lotteries and bingo. There are special bingo halls where gamblers can play their favourite game.
A separate niche is occupied by the online sector, which does not limit access to online slot machines for locals. It is enough that players are 18 years old.
The largest state-owned operator Hrvatska Lutrija provides its services in the Internet segment. It is competing with several private companies with international capitals, including Bet365, Betradar, Bet-At-Home, Hattrick-PSK, Top Games, and others.
All issues related to gambling are the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance. Taking into account the impressive annual turnover of 270 million euros, the government has developed clear rules for managing the industry and generating taxes.
The cost loading can be divided into two directions:
- Expenses, which are connected with casino licensing.
- Periodical tax payments, which are direct (a flat rate for the period) and floating (per cent of the casino turnover or income).
All costs are ranked depending on the specific gambling field.
The cost loading in Croatian gambling
Indicator, in thousands of euros
Annual fee for holders of gambling licenses
Annual payment for having a land-based slot machine
1,3 for one equipment unit
Monthly tax, % of the profit
A license is issued for a period of 15 years but it may be revoked if the licensee fails to fulfil his duties. The requirements for applicants are standard, the same as for all gambling in Europe. It is necessary to provide a sufficient amount of the authorised capital and confirm a bank guarantee and work experience in the industry.
Among the specific conditions, we can name a detailed business plan, which operators should send to the Ministry of Finance annually.
Despite the rather high taxes, the Croatian gambling market remains extremely attractive in terms of long-term investment:
- A Croatian license gives its holder an exclusive right to run the gambling business in Europe.
- The gambling industry is a high-margin business. The expenses for purchasing a license and paying taxes are completely covered by the operator’s income.
The prospects for Croatian gambling were actively discussed in October of this year. The excitement is caused by the international concern Gaming Innovation Group (GIG), in particular, by its plans to enter the local market soon.
The company’s representative, Richard Brown, said that GIG intends to buy 75% of stocks of the Croatian online operator Top Games as early as in 2020. The transaction details were not disclosed but according to the anonymous sources, it should become the largest trade in the history of the independent gambling market. The first dividends from the transaction are expected at the end of 2020.
The appearance of such a well-known operator in the local market is a clear signal that the Croatian iGaming can and should be trusted. Experts suggest that, after GIG, other world-famous brands will also want to enter the market.
Croatia is a profitable and promising market for investors. The industry is characterised by transparent tax legislation and a high level of income. This fact is confirmed by both analytical reports and actions of some world’s leading brands.
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