Does Croatia Have the Most Liberal Gaming Laws in Europe?

gambling in Croatia

Before Covid spread across the globe, Croatia was enjoying a happy period of growth regarding tourism. Every year the number of tourists arriving in the country was rising significantly until the start of the pandemic. In 2020, Croatia saw a 52.97% decline in tourists. However, 2021 saw a huge boost, with 14 million visitors arriving as travel restrictions in Europe relaxed.

Croatia is known as being a laid-back destination and is enjoyed by people looking for relaxation on a beach, as well as anyone who enjoys lively nightlife. Dubrovnik itself has achieved some fame from being used in Game of Thrones and enjoys a certain amount of visitors simply because of this.

Croatia doesn’t just have laid-back beaches and restaurants, though, it also has some quite liberal laws surrounding gambling. So, if you are a casino fan and a lover of classy nightlife destinations, you might want to understand how relaxed Croatia is for anyone who enjoys gambling.

Is Croatia the most liberal country in Europe for gambling?

A visitor from the UK would find many similarities in how gambling is handled in Croatia to their own country. However, there are some very distinctive differences too.

The types of gambling allowed in Croatia extend to sports betting, casino games, lottery, poker, and slot machines. Virtual sports can be bet on as well as live events. 

To place a sports bet in person, you would have to visit a bookmaker or sportsbook. Casinos are located across the country in major cities such as Dubrovnik and Zagreb, the capital, and many of these will house poker rooms for players to visit.

The age for gambling in Croatia is 18, which is the same as most other European countries, and an ID is required for entering any gaming establishment.

Whether Croatia is the most liberal gaming country in Europe is debatable, but it certainly has every activity covered for in-person betting.

How is online gambling treated in Croatia?

Unlike many other countries in Europe and across the globe, Croatia has clear rules regarding online gambling. In some regions, it is unclear where the law stands on online gambling leading many to hunt out offshore gaming sites such as Energy Casino.

Croatia regulated online gaming so that licenses could be issued and purchased for casino operators within the country’s borders.

Sports betting, casino games, and the lottery can all be played legally online in Croatia. The lottery, however, is limited to one operator and is state-owned, whereas multiple casino sites are licensed in the country.

gambling in Croatia

Are there many gaming establishments in Croatia?

There are many common mistakes for travelers to Dubrovnik. One of these is neglecting the vibrant nightlife. One part of Dubrovnik’s nightlife that you may enjoy is the casinos.

Not only does Croatia have many land-based casinos, but it also has bingo halls and dedicated playing areas for slot machines.

Anyone from the UK may recognize the type of shop for placing sports bets in Croatia as the same as back home. But slot machines are handled very differently. In Croatia, there are halls known as automat clubs where over 18-year-olds can gamble on slot machines.

There are over 150 of these gaming establishments across the country. And while they are another sign of the lenient gaming laws in Croatia, they do require patrons to bring in ID to prove their age. This is one area of the law that is enforced rigidly.

Are there any restrictions on certain gambling activities in Croatia?

Croatia provides most of the markets anyone would hope to see when looking for ways to gamble. Bingo, poker, casino games, slot machines, online gaming, sports betting, and a lottery, are all open entertainment as long as you are at least 18. 

Indeed, the age restriction is really the only part of gaming that is strict. Apart from the lottery in the UK, which is open to 16-year-olds, most gambling activities require the player to be at least 18 in Europe.

One activity that isn’t regulated is fantasy sports. This activity can still be gambled on but there is no legislation in place regarding it.

The biggest restrictions surrounding gambling in Croatia don’t concern the players but the operators themselves. Illegal gambling operations will incur the wrath of the justice department, and heavy punishments are available to hand out. Someone operating an illegal gambling establishment could face up to 8 years imprisonment and over $70,000 in fines.

How does Croatia compare to other European countries?

Russia is one of the strictest countries in Europe regarding gambling laws. In 2009 almost every form of gambling was prohibited. There are now just four specially designated zones in the country where some forms of gambling are allowed. There is though a state lottery through, which is similar to Croatia’s and other European countries.

Poland has prohibited online gambling unless it is under the control of the state. There are some forms of online gambling in the country, but these are all run as a monopoly owned by the state.

Great Britain has some of the tightest laws surrounding the opening of online casinos. This is why there are so few operating in the country. Yet, as far as players are concerned, Great Britain is extremely liberal for gambling activities. This country doesn’t have slot machine halls like Croatia, it simply puts the games into bars and public houses for any adult to enjoy.

France used to have stricter gambling laws, but over time, they have all been relaxed. Slot machines that were once banned are allowed, and the legal age for gambling was dropped from 21 to 18. All forms of gambling are allowed in France, including online gaming.


Croatia may not have the most liberal gambling laws in Europe, but it is certainly up there. If you are planning to enjoy the nightlife in Dubrovnik, then maybe learn the winning strategies for playing poker and other casino games.

One thing is for sure, win or lose, you can play and enjoy many games in Croatia freely and legally.