Croatian Casino Industry: Features and Advantages

19 december 2023

Experts of the CASEXE studio will tell you about this promising market. You will find out why many European operators pay attention to the country and explain how to launch a profitable project and attract a solvent audience.

Gambling business in Croatia: general info

History of Gambling Development

Croatia is located on the Balkan Peninsula. In the West, it is washed by the Adriatic Sea, which determines the region’s tourist attractiveness. Along the coastline, there are many popular resorts with an impressive number of hotels and modern casinos.

The region was one of the first to legalise gambling in the East Bloc sector. Establishments with slots here appeared in the early ‘60s and quickly became extremely in demand.

  • After the country gained independence in 1991, the local entertainment niche began to gain momentum with renewed vigour. Its driving force was offline casinos and betting shops. The number of issued licences was limited, which partially monopolised the sector.
  • In the 2000s, the niche actually belonged to state-owned companies, which controlled 90% of the market.
  • In 2010, the Gambling Act came into force. The document put an end to the monopoly, which became a milestone in the region’s development.
  • In 2013, Croatia became a full member of the EU, and in 2015, it introduced the law that regulated entertainment for money. It was approved by the special Commission.

The updated legislation determined the rules for the functioning of digital casinos and bookmakers’ offices, introduced liability for offences, and obliged entrepreneurs to adhere to the principles of a responsible attitude toward the placement of bets.

The Local Market’s Structure

The Ministry of Finance processes applications and grants permits. A separate certificate is issued for each kind of activity for 15 years.

The main types of entertainment for money in Croatia:

  1. Offline casinos. They are located in the resort area and the capital, the city of Zagreb.
  2. Digital platforms. This sector has been developing since 2015. During this time, many representative offices of European operators were opened in the country, including 888 Holdings, Betfair, and many others. All slots offered on iGaming portals must undergo mandatory RNG certification.
  3. Betting. The sportsbook business can be run both in offline and virtual formats. The market is dominated by 3 domestic brands (PSK, Germania Sport, and Super Sport), but European providers are closely approaching them. Such industry giants as William Hill, Bet365, and Favbet have already obtained a local licence.
  4. Lottery. The Hrvatska Lutrija state company has the exclusive right to organise raffles.

Gaming Preferences of the Country’s Residents

Casino games in Croatia: the preferences of users

According to the results of the TGM Sports Betting Report study:

  • 38% of Croats regularly place bids on sports events;
  • 26% of respondents prefer lotteries and games of chance (for example, bingo or the popular Powerball draw);
  • 28% of locals play slots and cards (blackjack, poker) with a built-in RNG.

The wagering vertical is extremely popular in the region. Bids on the outcome of football games prevail here (both live and pre-march). According to the TGM, 9.9% of respondents decide to place bets on sports events if their friends have already done it.

Croatians love collective competitions: forecasters’ tournaments, seasonal campaigns, and other promotions with a big prize fund.

The eSports trend is still gaining momentum. Only 7% of local players regularly put their money into cyber competitions (for example, Dota 2 or Counter-Strike). Another 4% of respondents prefer fantasy entertainment (the most popular names in this field are DraftKings and FanDuel), and 3% bid on political events or TV shows at least once a week.

The catalogue of licensed online casinos’ offerings mostly consists of:

  • fruit mixes;
  • thematic 5-reel solutions with stories about animals, heroes of myths and fairy tales;
  • cluster slots;
  • options with jackpots.

iGaming products with a reference to Croatian traditions cause an increased interest. For example, a slot machine can be decorated in the colours of the national flag or include images of natural sights.

The first 2 parts of the Game of Thrones franchise were filmed in the resort town of Dubrovnik. Its citizens are very proud of this and respond well to entertainment on similar topics.

Why It Is Worth Launching Casinos in Croatia

Let us consider the positive aspects of such a decision:

Favourable Investment Climate

Croatia is a member of the EU and NATO. The local economy is demonstrating impressive development. Mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, the chemical sector, the pharmaceutical industry, tourism, and, of course, gambling are well-developed in this region. Moreover, it is part of the eurozone.

Casino legislation here has not changed for almost 10 years. Thanks to this, entrepreneurs can make long-term plans to implement projects, attract investment, and scale their businesses.

Rapid Growth of the iGaming Vertical

According to the Statista analytical portal:

  • the expected GGR (gross gaming revenue) of the online betting sector in Croatia at the end of 2023 was $451 million;
  • the projected CAGR (annual growth rate) until 2028 will be 5.03%;
  • based on the results of 2023, ARPU (average revenue per user) was estimated at $1.12 thousand;
  • the expected number of active users of gaming sites by 2028 is 543.6 thousand people;
  • the annual increase in customers who use mobile casinos and sportsbook platforms is 10%.

The Croatian online market is becoming more and more popular. This can be explained by a stable legal framework, growing demand for interactive options, and increasing incomes of the citizens.

High Interest in Gambling Activities Among Local Users

TGM states that:

  • 30% of Croats place bets in casinos or bookmakers’ offices at least once a week;
  • 39% of respondents visit such specialised sites once a month or even more often;
  • 18% of residents play 3–4 times a year.

User activity traditionally increases during major competitions (for example, the World Cup), holidays, and Christmas days.

The male audience prevails in the gambling field (76%). The main group is players aged 25–44 years old with stable above-average income and consideration of entertainment for money as a way to have some fun.

According to the TGM survey:

  • 38.9% of Croats noted that they are more interested in watching/monitoring the game’s results after placing bets;
  • 33.5% of respondents are driven by the desire to win big prizes;
  • 27.6% of people said that they are attracted by a sense of excitement and want to distract from everyday problems.

Low Competition

The jurisdiction has enormous potential for business scaling and development, and Western European and American operators are just beginning to work in the local market.

Croatian gambling can boast of a balance between traditional and innovative content.

The lion's share of the audience is interested in bookmaking options and classic 5-reel slot machines. At the same time, betting on eSports or fantasy disciplines, as well as VR and AR games and other trendy solutions, are gradually entering the country.

How to Obtain a Casino Licence

Croatian gambling licence: key advantages

If entrepreneurs wish to obtain such a permit and manage a digital platform, they must participate in a tender.

Open bidding is available only for those project owners who:

  • the registered authorised capital of more than $431.6 thousand;
  • confirmed the guarantee contribution in the amount of more than $575.5 thousand.

It is necessary to attach the following documents to the electronic application for participation in the tender:

  • the legal entity’s name, head office’s address, and personal identification number (OIB);
  • a copy of the agreement with the bank when opening operational and reserve accounts;
  • a copy of the constituent document and an extract from the court register;
  • a bank statement confirming payment of the licence fee of more than $431.6 thousand;
  • information about hardware, software, and support systems that will be used in an online casino;
  • test results and certificates of compliance for all program components (games, security services, financial modules, etc.);
  • data on the physical location of servers (by law, they must be located in Croatia);
  • description of tools and measures that are taken to protect personal information;
  • name and address of the website (it must operate in the .hr domain zone);
  • a copy of the contract with a land-based casino provider registered in the country (this requirement is only for foreign applicants);
  • a business plan for 3 years.

After accepting all the papers, the Ministry of Finance holds a tender. Its results are published on the government agency’s website for 30 days. After this, operators have another 60 days to sign an agreement on the provision of gambling services in Croatia.

Local Fiscal Policy

The size of the tax rate depends on the type of activity:

  • bookmakers pay 5% of GGR;
  • digital casinos deduct 10%;
  • land-based establishments with slot machines must transfer 25%;
  • state lottery providers deduct 5%.

For players, entrepreneurs also become tax agents. Their tasks include accrual and payment of taxes on winnings that users receive in a casino. The rate depends on the amount of cash reward. From 10% for the prize up to $1.4 thousand to 30% for the sum over $71 thousand.

The Main Things about the Croatian Entertainment Market

The niche is showing stable growth, which attracts foreign investors.

Key features of the jurisdiction:

  • Businessmen can launch sportsbook platforms, as well as offline or virtual casinos by obtaining a licence, which is valid for 15 years. The local lottery sector is monopolised.
  • Betting on the results of various competitions is the most preferable entertainment for the country’s residents. Then there is playing in land-based establishments and on digital resources, betting on raffles, bingo, and instant lottery draws. The lion's share of bids occurs in the male audience aged 25–44 years.
  • The advantages of working in Croatia include a positive economic and investment climate, rapid growth of the iGaming vertical, and a healthy competitive environment.
  • Acquisition of permits begins with a tender. It is open to all legal entities that have registered their authorised capital in the region and transferred a financial guarantee to the local bank’s account. The servers must be placed in the country, and the website must operate in the .hr domain zone.

The CASEXE studio is your reliable partner in the gambling business. We will help you obtain a Croatian licence and launch a profitable startup in this attractive European jurisdiction.

From us, you can also order such useful services as:


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Author: Matt Grant
iGaming business expert
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