After many years of state controlled gambling, sports betting is now flourishing in Croatia. The Republic of Croatia was previously a significant part of the former communist state of Yugoslavia, before declaring independence in 1991. The country forms part of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe and has a long coastline along the Adriatic Sea which attracts a significant amount of tourism.
This guide to online sports betting in Croatia starts with a brief history of the industry in the country. Then the current state of online betting is looked at along with the taxation on winnings. After this you can see how the betting sites accommodate Croatian customers before finishing up with thoughts to the future of sports betting in the country.
Prior to 1991 the Yugoslav gambling laws dated back to 1964. This legislation only allowed those holding a government issued license to operate and the system essentially created a State-owned monopoly. The only opportunity to place a wager was in small dedicated kiosks and there was only one type of bet available – forecast betting on that week’s football matches.
A relaxation of gambling laws occurred soon when the Games of Chance Law was passed . This provided the opportunity for betting shops and casinos to be created in Croatia, along with allowing a full range of games and sports to be wagered on. The new laws also welcomed private companies to apply for licenses, attracting the likes of Prva Sportska Kladionica to enter the market.
These new betting shops proved a great success with massive queues of customers waiting to place bets on major events. This success- along with a favourable tax situation – attracted major chains form the UK and Germany. This came to an end in 2009 when 20% VAT was introduced on profits from gambling  and also signalled the end of many smaller companies. This has since led to local operators Prva Sportska Kladionica (PSK) and Super Sport dominating the market.
Online Betting in Croatia
In order to manage online operators in their jurisdiction Croatia passed the Ordinance on Interactive Online Casino Gaming in 2010 . This set the rules for all forms of online gambling within Croatia, which in addition to permitting government audits, includes confirming that all participants are over 18 and that customer balances are kept separate from operational funds. There was also the provision that operators should own a land-based operation within Croatia. PSK again has a significant presence here with an online site run in partnership with Hattrick Sports Group. The other big player is Hrvatska Lutrija, who operates the national lottery.
While opening a land-based business have should limited the number of companies allowed to provide online bookmakers in Croatia, there have been no blocks on international sites. Many international operators with EU licenses believe they are legally allowed to provide games to Croatia, while others have just gone ahead anyway. Whichever reason applies, there has been no attempt made by Croatia to block any of these sites and there is no laws restricting Croats from wagering on them.
Winnings are Tax Free
While the registered Croatian companies are liable to pay taxes to the government all gambling winnings are considered to be tax free for all Croatians. This applies to winnings from shops as well as online sites.
Large Range of Options for Croatian Customers?
In addition to the Croatia-based sites aimed at a local customer base, you can find some international companies also provide Croatian translation and customer support for their sites. Unfortunately if you wish to have your funds held in Croatian Kunas you will be largely disappointed as most international sports books will not accommodate these. While this is slightly annoying it does not mean you cannot deposit. You will just have to have your funds exchanged into Euro or Dollars and wager in those currencies.
Deposits are accepted from credit cards, including the widely used Visa and MasterCard. You can also deposit via e-wallets like Skrill, formerly Moneybookers, who provide quick services and can also process currency conversions if you wish.
Future Outlook for the Croatian Market
There have been some bookies pull out of Croatia due to the lack of clarity in the law. Most notable of these is Bwin.Party, who stopped taking new sign-ups from Croatia in 2013 along with a number of other countries . It has been speculated that this is because the company wants to remove itself from the grey markets where legislation is not clear in order to help its expansion in the US. There has been no suggestion that Croatia prevented them or any other company from operating in their jurisdiction.
While April 2014 saw new laws passed  to strengthen existing legislation there continues to be no indication any enforcement will take place. The blocking of sites has also been made harder by Croatia’s inclusion into the EU, as breaches of European laws have occurred when other nations have previously tried to block EU licensed sites.