Betting in Croatia

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As one of the six republics that made up Yugoslavia, Croatia was governed by gaming laws that limited sports betting to wagers made at state-operated kiosks. What’s more, the only available market was “sports forecasting,” requiring the selection of the results of 13 football matches in a single week.

In 1991, Croatia ousted its communist government and formed an independent nation. Not long afterwards, sports betting was legalized and private companies were allowed to open betting shops around the country. Two of the first enterprises to take advantage of deregulation were Prva Sportska Kladionica (PSK) and Sport Tip. They soon took over the Croatian bookmaking industry completely.

So popular were the newly opened betting shops that major events led to long queues of fans trying to place bets. Eventually, competing bookmakers from Great Britain and Germany entered the market, establishing their own chains of shops. However, the Croatian government decided to change its tax ordinances for sports betting, which resulted in smaller companies going out of business Today, a state-run bookmaker dominates the sports betting scene.

Similarly, the state is a major owner among the 20 different casinos and 30-odd slot clubs known as “automat klubs” that are located throughout Croatia. The greatest concentration of these gambling venues (seven of them) can be found in the capital city, Zagreb. The largest casino in the country is the Miro Hotel and Casino Minerva, located in the resort town of Buje, Plovanija. Open daily from 8pm to 3am, it features some 250 gaming machines and 34 table and poker games.

In order to wager at a Croatian casino, patrons must be 18 years of age or older. Poker and all types of table games are legal, although strictly confined to licensed casinos. Under the state regulatory organisation known as Hrvatska Lutrija, a national lottery is also available, along with a sports lottery. Additionally, the organisation has responsibility for overseeing bingo and keno, plus all forms of online and offline gambling.

One of the very first bookmakers to offer a Serbia-facing sports betting website was PSK. Initially, only match results and other information were provided and patrons had to physically go to a PSK shop to place bets. Today, no fewer than 343 English-language sports betting sites offer a full range of betting opportunities online and accept play from Croatia. Another 15 Croatian-language sites exist, too, including those managed by unibet, ladbrokes, expekt and bwin, to name just a few of the majors.

Of particular interest to Croatian online bettors is a web site called BetAdria. Using software developed by SGS Universal, it is currently the only sportsbook on the Internet to offer versions of its betting platform in all of the region’s major languages: English, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian.

Regarding currency, although the official currency of Croatia is the Kuna, Croatia-facing websites operate primarily in Euros. Visa credit lists some 1,959 sites that accept players who have Croatian addresses, including 51 sites supported in the Croatian language, such as the sportsbooks of unibet, expekt and ladbrokes, among others.

By comparison, MasterCard offers 1,867 Croatia-friendly sites in English and 51 venues providing support in the Croatian language. Among eWallets, Moneybookers claim 1,593 gaming sites in English that accept play from Croatia, while NETeller has 1,570.

With Croatia looking to please its partners in NATO and planning to join the European Union in 2013, betting opportunities in Croatia can be expected to evolve. Early in 2011, for example, Hrvatska Lutrija signed a new deal with Greece to provide its Intralot Interactive online casino gaming technology and content for a new online 3D casino.