Gambling in Austria:
Casinos, Slot Machines, Roulette
Gambling in all is manifold forms - card games, slot machines, sport bets, roulette and alike - is legal in Austria, but strictly regulated. This means that there are casinos that are run through a licensed company that is obliged to look after people who might be addicted to gambling. They are also required to set certain steps against gambling addiction and not admit people to the casino that are obviously spending too much. In theory, that is. In the past, several addicted gamblers have successfully sued Austrian casinos for not following these rules enough. Nevertheless, Austria is a gambling nation.
The national casino company, "Casinos Austria", is one of the country′s most important tax payers. It runs 12 casinos in Austria and holds shares of gambling companies worldwide. If you want to go to a casino in Austria, keep in mind that there used to be a fairly strict dress-code. Today, this has changed to some extent, but if you want to feel somewhat decent, I recommend to dress smartly - business suit or even black tie (and whatever is equivalent for women folk) are quite appropriate for an Austrian casino.
Austrian Casinos: Where they are
The "official" casinos of Austria can be found in Baden (in the old spa pavilion), Bregenz, Graz, Innsbruck, the exclusive ski resort of Kitzbühel, the Vorarlberg valley of Kleinwalsertal, which used to be a duty free haven before Austria joined the EU, Linz, Salzburg, Seefeld, the spa and lakeside town of Velden and Vienna.
The casino of Bad Gastein in Salzburg is open only during the summer and the winter season, but then it is one of the most exclusive casinos in Austria. If you are interested in gambling, see my article on the "little gambling" regulations in Austria - and why there are so many more casinos than the decent dozen shown above.
Gambling for Austria's Economy: Tax Revenue from the Casinos
Much like most monopoly corporations of Austria (and there are many, thanks, dear socialists!), the Casinos Austria are strongly linked with politics. The company was originally founded in 1934, but renamed a few times since then. Beyond the Austrian casinos, the Casinos Austria operate dozens of casinos in other countries. If you pool the number of visitors of all casinos, you get an impressive 17 million. According to a public report, the Casinos Austria had a turnover of one billion Euros in 2004, including all side-companies - with decreasing numbers ever since. Worldwide, the Casinos Austria employ 9,200 people, of which approximately 1,800 work in Austria.
The Austrian turnover of 2004 was approximately 300 million Euros. The reason why the turnover of the Casinos Austria decreases despite of growing "gambling spenditure" in Austria is the increase in competition - mostly through online casinos, such as the company bwin.com, which was started in Austria and by Austrians (for tax and legal reasons, it officially lives elsewhere).
The Casinos Austria try to fight this competition by making their venues even classier than they already are - gambling should become an exciting and exclusive leisure activity. The Casinos Austria are not owned by the public anymore - the current shareholders are a combination of banks, insurances, investment funds and private individuals.
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