The Croatian government started sanctioning gambling as early as the 1960s, during the communist times. However, gambling was still recognized by the authorities only that it was limited to football games.
Fast-forward, the first government-licensed casino was allowed to open its doors to Croatian punters in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, it is worth noting that the forms of betting were limited and could only be offered at dedicated gaming booths or shops.
These gaming restrictions were then relaxed in 2009 after adopting the "Game of Chance Act." This new law played a vital role in creating land-based casinos that ensured to give players more options.
In 2009, the introduction of the 20% VAT saw small gambling operators exit the scene, a situation that is still evident today. Much of the gambling market was covered by lotteries and bingo, which formed the most significant part of Croatia's government revenue.
When Croatia joined the EU, it had to restructure its gambling rules to align with the rest of the member states. Part of the new development was introducing license fees to all casino operators in the country. As a result, Croatia now enjoys a thriving gambling culture, with online casinos keen to tap into this market.
Gambling nowadays in Croatia
With a population of four million people, there is no shortage of casino players in Croatia. At the moment, land-based games remain popular and present in a majority of casinos. The government also runs a state lottery that Hrvatska Lutrija manages. Notably, casinos remain popular with hotels and the tourism industry. Some of the best land-based casinos in Croatia include:
- The Diamond Palace Casino in Zagreb
- Wettpunkt City Centar One in Split
- Crystal Palace Casino in Rijeka
- Lunkia Casio in Osijiek
- Arena Automat Klub in Zadar
After online casinos were permitted to operate in 2010, the online casino industry is still developing. Many offshore online casinos accept Croatians. However, there is only one state-regulated online casino in Croatia. Compared to other European countries, the Croatian online scene has been reasonably slow.