Croatia — a popular destination among all European tourists — is not only known for its scenic beaches and resort cities, it’s also a regulated gambling market. Read on to find out how to launch an online casino or sportsbook in Croatia or move your land-based project online.
Located in the South of Europe along the sea, Croatia is known as a tourist destination — its appealing landscapes, vibrant cities, outstanding architecture, and delicious food attract visitors from all over the world.
Just like other countries in the Balkan region, Croatia gained its independence relatively recently, in 1991, but unlike the rest of its neighbors, Croatia is a member of NATO (since 2009) and the EU (since 2013).
The Croatian economy is largely dependent on tourism. Years of crisis and recovery in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown finally led to increasing stabilization — the country’s GDP has been steadily growing, and inflation and unemployment were decreasing every year until 2020.
The economic crisis that affected almost every country due to the Covid-19 pandemic affected Croatia as well. The country faced a recession, a drop in tourism and exports, and a rise in unemployment and budget debt. However, as in many other countries, the economy is quickly bouncing back.
The government has adopted the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, approved by the European Union Council in July 2021, to get financial help, as well as starting an employment subsidies programme. The country’s good reputation as a growing economy before the pandemic helped it attract foreign investments back into the private sector. The Croatian government is planning to adopt the Euro by 2024.
In short, Croatia has a strong, stable, and growing economy with an increasingly rosy future.
Croatia has a sizable population — almost 29 million people. With 82% of them using the internet, and 106.6 mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, the robust telecommunications infrastructure makes good soil for the development of the online gambling sector.
Croats, like their neighbors, are very into football, basketball, and tennis — not only participating in them, but betting on them as well. However, just like everywhere else, the Covid pandemic hit the sport betting sector hard.
Gambling regulation in Croatia
Authorities in Croatia have regulated all forms of gambling, including casino games, sports betting (except for fantasy sports, which are not regulated), lottery, and slot machines, since 2014, when the law regulating both online and offline forms was introduced. The lottery is a monopoly and belongs to the state-owned Hrvatska Lutrija.
As usual, to conduct these activities, operators need to obtain a local license issued by the Ministry of Finance.
However, to run an online casino, operators have to have a land-based project. Another important thing to keep in mind is that to run an online casino in Croatia legally, operators must have their office registered and servers located in the country. Foreign platforms without a local license can’t accept players (and payments) from Croatia.
Gambling licenses are valid for 15 years. To acquire an online casino or betting license operators have to pay an annual fee of HRK 3,000,000 (approx. $431,648) and have at least HRK 4,000,000 ($575,514) of share capital registered for the entire term.
The taxes are different for each vertical. Betting operators have to pay 5% from their turnover, casino operators 15% from their GGR, and 25% from GGR from slot machines.
Players’ wins are also taxed depending on a sum: winnings up to HRK 10,000 ($1,439) are taxed with 10%, HRK 10,000 - 30,000 ($4,319) 15%, HRK 30,000 - HRK 500,00 25%, and above that — 30%.
Unlicensed gambling operators are prosecuted and can be fined from HRK 50,000 ($7,220) to HRK 500,000 ($72,207) or even imprisoned for up to eight years. Players can also be punished by law in the case of participating in foreign games of chance (and paying stakes in Croatia). The fines range from HRK 10,000 ($1,444) to HRK 50,000 ($7,220).
Where to start?
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, all nonessential services were shut down, dealing a massive blow to the tourism sector — casinos included. Revenues obviously suffered. Given the added agility online businesses present in the face of serious instability, it’s only logical for land-based establishments to transition to the online sphere. Casino owners should also note that the online license is tied to the land-based license, potentially easing an administrative burden.
Developing an online casino requires thorough research and a business plan that would include understanding target players and game selection based on their preferences, payment methods, website design and a back-end system allowing management and reporting, as well as a marketing plan.
3 June, 2022
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How can Slotegrator help?
Slotegrator offers a range of products and services for gambling operators, and we normally recommend starting with a free consultation where our sales managers evaluate the goals and resources of every particular project and suggest the best solution.
Operators that are already running an online casino platform will appreciate APIgrator — a game aggregation tool with over 5,000 titles from over 75 providers available via single integration session. Land-based operators planning to go online will find our advisory and licensing services useful. And operators who are still in the stage of planning their project can simplify this process by ordering a Turnkey online casino platform development or Sportegrator — a comprehensive online sportsbook solution.