Austria is a betting-friendly member state of the European Union with a population of 8.8 million and a gross domestic product of $416.6 billion. Located in Central Europe, the country is characterized by its picturesque Alpine terrain, rich history, and significant contribution to the Old Continent’s culture.
Austria’s gambling industry is thriving, with both landbased and digital betting being legal but heavily regulated in the country. Considering its mountainous terrain, it is no surprise that Austrian bettors are avid fans of winter sports such as alpine skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and ski jumping.
Other betting markets with a large following include soccer, tennis, and basketball. Rugby is currently a minor, yet growing sport. Motorsports are also quite popular in Austria as is horse racing.
The regulatory framework for gambling in the country is unique. Some activities like slots, commercial casino gaming, and lotteries are subject to a statewide monopoly and are stringently regulated under the country’s federal Gambling Act.
On the other hand, sports betting is not monopolized. It falls under the oversight of Austria’s nine federal provinces, collectively referred to as the Bundesländer.
Legalities of Online Sports Betting in Austria
Historical Betting Overview
Austria saw its democracy restored after the end of World War II in 1945 and reestablished its full sovereignty from the Allied forces ten years later. The country’s economy has blossomed since then which also gave a push to its betting industry.
Most traditional forms of gambling are legal and regulated by the Austrian Ministry of Finance under the Federal Gambling Act (Glücksspielgesetz, abbreviated as GSpG) that passed in November 1989. The latter does not cover sports betting, which falls within the scope of the country’s nine federal provinces.
Bookmaking shops located within the country must acquire individual licenses from the authorities of the federal provinces they operate in. Local authorities have a laxer stance on this type of gambling activity, which has led to a huge number of sports betting outlets opening shop across the country.
One unique thing about Austria is the so-called betting café. This establishment combines the relaxing atmosphere of regular coffee shops with the ability to wager on a variety of sporting events. Presently, Austria boasts over 200 of these betting cafes. Regular betting shops are also a common sight on its territory.
The landbased betting market is dominated by the locally based Admiral Sportwetten, which is responsible for the operation of more than 50 bookmaking shops across the country. It also accepts action on horse racing. Landbased bookies can apply for local licenses that allow them to run online sports betting services.
In the early 2000s, local authorities started to tighten their regulations in an attempt to reduce gambling participation rates and curb the harmful effects such activities can have on the Austrian population.
These regulations paid off causing a drop to 1.1% in problem-gambling behaviors in 2015 but further complicated the legal situation in the country. This complex legal climate, combined with the tight regulations, has driven away many foreign sports betting operators from Austria.
Odds Format in Austria
Austria-friendly sportsbooks generally support three formats of odds expression, the American moneyline, fractional and decimal odds. The latter are the most broadly preferred format by Austrian punters.
This format is the easiest to understand and work with. If one bookie offers you a price of 1.61 while another one offers odds of 1.45 for the same market, you can instantly see that the first operator provides you with more value.
Another benefit here is that you can immediately distinguish the favorites from the underdogs. The higher the decimal number, the lower the winning probability of the respective outcome.
Finally, it would be easier for you to work out your potential profits from a winning bet with decimal odds. All you have to do is multiply your initial stake by the decimal number. So if you wager €10 on Swarovski Tirol to beat LASK Linz at odds of 1.36, you are in for a potential return of €13.60.
This is your overall return, though, as your initial €10 are included. Therefore, you need to subtract your original stake to arrive at net profits of €3.60.
Austria Betting Laws and Legislation
For many years, foreign betting companies were allowed to run their operations in the country alongside domestic bookmakers. This created a confusing situation whereby locally licensed operators had to abide by Austrian laws and were taxed while many of their foreign cousins did not assume such responsibilities.
The local government started to look for ways to encourage local punters to bet on domestic gambling sites. In the autumn of 2012, the Austrian Lotto was awarded a license for online gambling as part of Casinos Austria International.
This mainly influenced casino gaming and did not have much of an effect on Austrians’ ability to make sports bets at domestic or international sportsbooks. However, many foreign sites continue to accept action from the country. They are available in the German language, work with the EUR currency, and offer local payment options like Sofort and Giropay.
In August 2018, the government started discussions on amending the Gambling Act to block the domains of offshore-licensed casino sites. This measure does not specifically concern sports bettors. The trouble is many foreign companies operate their casino and poker products via the same platform as their sportsbooks.
The amendment has only been drafted so far. If it passes, locals who were wronged by offshore operators would have the option to seek remuneration under the new rules. It also aims at consolidating the gambling monopoly and shielding Austrian operators from the foreign competition.
Austria Betting Restrictions
Under the individual regulations of the nine federal provinces (Lower and Upper Austria, Vienna, Salzburg, Burgenland, Styria, Carinthia, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg), licensing terms, regulations, and product scope vary significantly.
Each province is free to set up its own rules where sports betting is concerned. Licenses can be obtained both by natural persons and companies. License features differ in the nine Bundesländer depending on their local laws.
As a general rule, licenses can be suspended or revoked when all other forms of penalization have failed. Sports betting operators have the right to appeal the revocation of their licenses before the Regional Administrative Courts of the respective Bundesländer.
Some of the provinces like Salzburg and Vorarlberg permit betting on sports games only. In others, bets on social non-sport-related events like political elections are allowed as well. Many provinces restrict wagering on virtual sports. In Upper Austria and Salzburg, maximum stakes are restricted to the amount of €500.
Many Bundesländer have introduced measures to restrict anonymous sports betting. In such cases, the punters must own and show a personalized customer card for all wagers exceeding a specific threshold (€70 in the province of Carinthia). Vienna restricts in-play betting to end outcomes and partial outcomes only.
The betting companies are taxed at the point of consumption. A 2% levy on stakes is imposed both on landbased and online betting firms. Austrian punters themselves are not taxed on their sports betting winnings.
The local laws of some Austrian provinces require operators to provide punters with the self-exclusion option in the interest of promoting responsible gambling. Of course, the operators are supposed to restrict the access of minors to sports wagering. Only Austrians who are 18 years of age can lawfully bet on sporting events.
Most Bundesländer, including Salzburg, require online betting companies to have their servers on the respective province’s territory.
At the moment of writing, local authorities do not block the access to foreign sportsbooks’ domains. The transfer of funds is not restricted or blocked by financial institutions and payment processors, either. There are no known cases of punters being sanctioned for participating in unlicensed sports betting.
Online Betting Regulatory Body in Austria
As we previously stated, the legal situation pertaining to sports betting is rather complex in Austria because such activities are not regulated on a federal level. Instead, each of the nine federal subdivisions oversees sports wagering on a local level.
All other permitted gambling activities are subjected to the regulation of the Ministry of Finance under the Austrian Gambling Act.
In August 2019, Lower Austria, one of the nine Bundesländer, submitted a draft that aims to update the current legislation that governs sports betting on a local level, the Law on the Activities of Totalizators and Bookmakers from 1978.
The province is looking to introduce specific regulations on online sportsbooks and landbased betting terminals located in restaurants and tobacco stores. Operators who enter the Lower Austrian market can apply for licenses with two-year validity.
These licenses will enable the bookmakers to offer most forms of betting except for events that are not related to sports, like politics, for example. The legislation update also aims to ensure higher levels of protection for Austrian punters.
The licensees will not be permitted to accept stakes that exceed €350. As for in-play betting, this will be allowed but the punts will be restricted only to results at the end of a half time or a full time. Betting on the next pointscorer or goalscorer will also be possible.
Austria Online Betting Bonuses
Austrians like to punt on international betting sites because they are attracted by the broad range of special offers and promotions available there. New customers from the country can build their sports betting bankrolls by opting in for a welcome bonus.
This is either a match on their first deposit(s) or a free bet. With a free bet, you need to sign up and contribute with a minimum bet on one of the allowed markets. The sum is usually small, either €5 or €10, but it all depends on the respective bookmaker. Sometimes you need to opt in with a valid promotional code or else they will not credit you with a bonus.
Often, there are restrictions on the markets you can use the free monies on. For example, you might be required to use the bonus on Win bets only. Restrictions apply to the minimum eligible odds as well.
The bonuses expire after a certain period so you better check how much time you are granted to use the free money and cover your rollover. Sports bonuses typically must be wagered a given number of times as stipulated in the promotional terms and conditions.
Some sportsbooks exclude payments made with given banking solutions from bonus redemption. If you are uncertain about any of the terms, you better check with the support team for clarification. Otherwise, you might violate a condition and have your bonus annulled.
Austrians who already hold accounts can redeem reload bonuses on subsequent deposits, refer friends for perks, receive cashbacks on some of their losses, and collect points via the sportsbooks’ rewards programs.
Mobile Betting in Austria
Mobile betting is easily the fastest-growing sector of the Austrian sports betting industry. All major bookmaking brands that welcome punts from the country focus on delivering a high-quality experience to smartphone and tablet users.
Some of the biggest sportsbooks provide punters with native apps suited for the iOS and Android platforms. These are available for a free download directly on their websites or via Apple’s official application store.
One of the latest trends in mobile betting is the option to access sportsbooks’ mobile portal directly via a full-sized version of the desktop website. In our opinion, this is a convenient alternative since it does not require you to waste storage space on your device.
Austria-friendly sportsbooks are highly optimized for mobile use, offering smartphone users the same features and functionalities. More often than not, you have the option to load the mobile version in German, which is especially convenient for Austrians who are not fluent in English.
You can set up the odds in the decimal format from the bet slip’s settings. Other great functionalities Austrian punters will benefit from include round-the-clock access to a quality support service, tons of betting markets, in-play wagering, and comprehensive statistics of past results. Armed with all this information, Austrian punters can make the best betting decisions on the fly.
Popular Betting Banking Methods in Austria
Austria was one of the first countries to become a member of the European Union (in 1995). It was also among the first EU member states to adopt the EUR as a national currency in 1999. Sports bettors from the Alpine country will find this currency in that cashiers of all bookmakers that accept action from Austria.
Deposits and withdrawals are commonly conducted with credit and debit cards issued by Visa and Mastercard. Most operators cover the additional costs associated with payments. Card withdrawals undergo verification when you cash out for the first time or request a larger sum.
You will have to scan the back and front of the card you used and send some copies of an identification document so that the sportsbook can see you are indeed the rightful owner of the card.
Austrian bettors who want to preserve their anonymity and sensitive card information have the option to process payments with popular e-wallets like Skrill and Neteller. There is no need to even own a card to use those but you will have to register for the service in advance.
Alternatively, punters from the country can conveniently use locally available methods like Sofort, Trustly, and Giropay. All of these methods service the Austrian market and are completely anonymous because there is no need to reveal any of your sensitive information.
These are third-party online banking platforms that operate in association with some of the biggest banks in Austria and Germany. Their platforms only serve as mediators between the punter and their bank. With that in mind, you need to have registered for online banking to use such services.
We also suggest you look up the limits on payments and bets that apply in your Austria-friendly sportsbook of choice. Some operators tailor their limits to fit the needs of casual bettors only. Others are happy to cater to professional punters as well by offering higher maximums on deposits and wagers.
Austria Betting Sites FAQ
How is sports betting regulated in Austria?
Sports betting is legal on the territory of the country but falls under the regulations of individual federal provinces. There are nine of those, and each one has its rules about product scope and licensing conditions. Among those is the condition for the sportsbook’s servers to be located on the territory of Austria.
Punters can register at offshore Austria-friendly sportsbooks that accept registrations from this country. Such operators are often licensed in other jurisdictions. Their domains are not blocked by Austrian authorities.
Are there sanctions for Austrian punters who bet at unauthorized sites?
No, the Austrian government is not in the habit of sanctioning local bettors for taking their real-money action to unauthorized bookmaking sites. You will experience no issues with making payments, either. Local banks and payment processors do not block gambling-related transactions to offshore sportsbooks. Foreign operators are prohibited from advertising their services to Austrian citizens.
Are there restrictions on unauthorized betting sites?
Not on behalf of the local government or the Bundesländer. The authorities began to draft legislation that would restrict the access to such sites a couple of years ago but the measures are yet to come into effect. With that said, some major operators have made the decision to voluntarily withdraw from this market. They have not applied for local licenses and would block Austrian access themselves.
Can I trust foreign sportsbooks licensed outside Austria?
You can as long as they are licensed and overseen by respected authoritative bodies. Always ensure the sportsbook you wager with offers a secure SSL-encrypted connection and provides the necessary tools for responsible gambling.
Do I have to worry about taxes?
The short answer is no. Bundesländer do not impose any taxes on profits derived from betting activities, regardless of whether you have generated them online or at a landbased bookmaking shop. Only the providers of the services are taxed in this country.