Gambling, as a concept, has been part of human culture since prehistoric times. The earliest dice found by modern archaeologists are believed to be over 5,000 years old.
Most historians agree that Europe is the birthplace of the casino, more specifically, Venice in 1638. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I commissioned a lottery in 1569, while betting on horse races has been common for three centuries.
Today, this thirst for gambling in all its forms has grown into a multi-billion dollar global industry. In Europe alone, the gaming and betting industry was estimated to be worth €108 billion in 2022.
This figure is growing rapidly and is expected to exceed €126 billion by 2026. A big driver for this increase is the online sector, which had an estimated value of €38 billion in 2022.
While modern Europe has a generally tolerant attitude towards gambling, this is not universal. Casino gambling is fully permitted in several nations including Switzerland, Spain, the UK, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Malta, and the Netherlands.
Other countries are much stricter when it comes to gambling laws, for instance, Norway, Cyprus, and - to a point - Germany. Each nation is responsible for deciding how it will manage gambling offered to its citizens both online and off.
For those living in permissive nations, there can be a huge amount of choice from both domestic and international providers. Casinos.com is a great source for finding the best games, slots, and promotions for online and land-based casinos.
Croatia is a great example of a young nation which has adopted a pragmatic approach towards gambling. Since becoming an independent country during the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia has quickly taken control of its regulations.
While tourism is the number one industry for Croatia, it has also found a strong revenue stream in gambling. Since 2014, casino games, sports betting, lotteries, and slot machines - online and off - have all been formally regulated.
Licences are granted for 15 years allowing companies with a domestic interest to operate casino or betting services freely. Online operating licences are only granted to companies that also have a land-based product, international companies without this are denied.
The government taxes both the revenue of the provider and any winnings earned by private citizens. The specific amount of taxation varies depending on the type of product and the amount of personal winnings.
As a result of these regulations, the industry has grown steadily to a value of approximately €500 million in 2022. Online gaming represents a huge part of this, estimated at around €440 million with almost €200 million from online casinos.
Casino, including table games and poker, is enjoyed across Croatia, as are slots, lotteries, and sports betting. In-person casinos are largely driven by visiting tourists, while lotteries and sports betting are dominated by Croats.
Online, however, is a huge market for Croatian citizens looking to enjoy casino games and gambling of all kinds. This is a quickly expanding market expected to be achieving annual revenues of over €530 million by 2027.
What are the innovations driving online gambling in Croatia?
● Mobile play
Investment in high-quality online platforms has been a huge priority for Croatian providers in all sectors. Smartphones are ubiquitous while the ability to play or bet anywhere at any time creates inclusivity for vast markets.
● Better iGaming
Generating the most engaging interactions for gamers of all kinds is a focus for Croatian platforms. Providers strive to provide the best experience on PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and even VR or wearable tech like smartwatches.
● Live dealers
One of the few parts of the casino experience that is missing online is the human interaction with dealers. Croatia is a leading light in the integration of live dealers with its online casinos to help replicate this element.
● Artificial intelligence
In addition to its importance for cybersecurity, AI has become a fantastic tool for assisting players on gambling platforms. Working like a virtual PA and customer service agent, AI assistants are now integrated into many of Croatia’s online services.
When completing any transaction online, from casinos to sports betting to retail, financial security is of the highest priority. The ongoing integration of ultra-secure and trackable cryptocurrencies is generating a huge boost in confidence for online gambling.
In addition to constant enhancements in all gameplay and services, these factors create a promising future for gambling in Croatia. As across the rest of the world, all signs point to continual and sharp increases in revenue and player numbers.
From a population of around four million, more than 500,000 Croats are expected to regularly gamble online by 2027. With 82% of citizens online and 106.6 mobile subscriptions for every 100 people, the potential for growth is huge.
As other European states ponder the future of their gambling industries, Croatia is a model they will watch with interest.