Croatia: Yugoslavian Gambling Heritage

Yugoslavian Gambling

It is well known that gambling business is booming in tourist magnetizing areas. Moreover, some deliberately choose those resorts offering trying the luck in the casino. In Croatia, luxurious casinos appeared in the middle of the XIX century, when it was a part of Austria-Hungarian Empire. Mild climate, warm sea, spectacular scenery, decent infrastructure, and flows of aristocrats, military and cultural figures are almost guaranteed.

The First World War led to the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Croatia joined Yugoslavia. The new authorities were not positive about gambling: a country torn apart by internal contradictions. In 1941, Yugoslavia was not able to withstand the blows of Nazi Germany and Italy.

Gambling in Soviet Yugoslavia

After the liberation of the country it was headed by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Despite the communist ideology of Yugoslavia pursued its own policies, sometimes strongly divergent with the Soviet Union. The basic economic principle was ‘socialist self-management’, in which a part of the personnel in decision-making was not a mere formality, as in the rest of the socialist camp.

Significant differences with Moscow led Tito to recognize the need for closer cooperation with the West. One of the industries, where the interaction was supposed to be particularly close, it was planned to turn tourism into a money generating conveyor. Josip Broz Tito was particularly succesfful in the implementation of this program in Croatia, especially in the Adriatic coast. In 1963, the Yugoslav leadership took seditious to the socialist system solution – the decision to restore gambling industry was made. A few years later, the first establishment was opened in the resort of Opatija. The next ones on the list were the major cities: Belgrade, Zagreb, Bled and Portoroz. In 1980, the number of operating casinos reached 21 organizations. In fact, casinos were owned by dealers and bartenders, who constituted the majority of the staff.

The General Assembly elected Labour Council; employees participated in all management activities, including disposal of the budget.

Such a model of governance was far from the efficiency due to the inability of rapid decision-making, but it was the best one in the framework of the socialist system. The terms of gambling activities were established by the Ministry of Finance. A number of severe restrictions on participation in the game were introduced. Chips are only allowed to sell for hard currency; thus, exchanging Yugoslav dinars for chips was almost impossible.

Gambling was prohibited for individuals under 18 years old, as well as citizens of the socialist countries. Visitors were provided with a wide selection of games: from roulette to slot machines. Like most other ones, the biggest casino was located at the Metropol in the resort of Portoroz, near the Italian border. The complex boasted 36 tables and 150 machines, and the game was conducted in Italian and French.

From first steps to prosperity

Croatia is listed as one of the most well-balanced gambling legislative frameworks according to web-based Swedish, running a website with one of the most comprehensive gambling review databases in Europe. Virtually all the gambling forms are allowed here, online gambling was legalized in 2010, and neither significant social issues, nor heated debates around gambling influence the pace of business development.