Currency: Croatian Kuna (HKR)
While Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire as the nominally autonomous Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, gambling was seen as a privilege of the nobility. The peasantry and the working class weren’t allowed to gamble. Meanwhile, the ruling class often took part in games of chance as a pastime activity. Gorica, a town in the present day Slovenia, was best known for its casinos at the time.
In the 20th Century, Croatia was part of Communist Yugoslavia. Under that regime, gambling was universally prohibited and thus was forced to the black market – as it was in every state in the Communist block. However, legal gambling came to Croatia decades earlier than in most countries behind the iron curtain – they had a legal and regulated market all the way back in the 1960’s.
Croatia was also one of the first countries to gain independence from Yugoslavia, in 1991. Since then, their gambling industry has been growing, especially in the coastal cities where casinos tend to target tourists.
Famous Croatian Poker Players
Goran Mandic currently leads Hendon’s all time money list for Croatian players with $1.395 million in live tournament earnings. He won a €10K PokerStars Championship event in Barcelona in 2017 for €374,400. Also, quite impressively, he managed to cash in the WSOP Main Event in four consecutive years – between 2013 and 2016. His highest ITM finish in the Main was 85th place in 2013, for which he got $71,053.
Second behind Mandic on the Croatian Hendon list is Stipo Vladic. He has $375,000 in career earnings. His biggest live tournament score is winning a €25,000 WSOP Circuit Super Highroller in Rozvadov in 2015. The vast majority of his career earnings comes from that victory, he won €256,025 that day.
Meanwhile on the virtual felt, Ivan Kario Banic, playing under the screen name “Banicinvan”, has won over $4.9 million in online MTT’s – more than any other Croatian player. He also has an additional $342,054 in live tournament winnings.
– Playing Live Poker in Croatia –
Live Poker Legislation in Croatia
The gambling legislation currently in effect in Croatia was passed in 2014. It set up the licencing framework for foreign gambling companies – a change that was welcomed by many, including the EU’s European Commission. Just like in many other European countries, gambling licencing and regulation is under the purview of the country’s Ministry of Finance.
Live Poker Venue Croatia
According to worldcasinodirectory.com, Croatia has a total of 18 casinos and 11 poker rooms.
The Grand Admiral Casino in the capital city of Zagreb has 4-5 tournaments on their schedule each week. The buy-ins range from HRK110 ($15.30) up to HRK330 ($49). They even have a freeroll tourney every Sunday with a HRK2,000 ($295.75) guarantee – however, add-ins and re-buys have to be bought for HRK40 ($6) and HRK30 ($4.50), respectively – so it’s made sure players can put money into that freeroll prize pool.
The Diamond Palace Casino is also located in Zagreb. They have cash rooms as well, running €1/€1 NLHE and €1/€2 PLO tables. They also run something called a “cash league”, which seems to be akin to a live rake race. You get points for taking part in big pots, and then whoever accumulated the most points are rewarded with cash prizes.
As for tournaments, they hosted a HRK1 million ($148K) GTD event with a HRK2,200 ($326) buy-in and some side events starting at HRK1,100 ($163).
They do not run tournaments on a consistent basis, however. Every few months or so, they put on a major event like the one mentioned above – but if you’re looking to grind live tourneys, it’s not the place for you.
You can find other major poker rooms at the Platinum Casino in Split or the Luckia Casino in Pula.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Croatia –
Grand Admiral Casino
Diamond Palace Casino
Luckia Casino Zagreb
Luckia Casino Osijek
Luckia Casino Pula
Online Poker Legislation in Croatia
The state of online poker has always been confusing in Croatia.
SuperSports became the first fully licenced and regulated online gambling site to offer poker in 2017. You need to operate a land based gambling facility in Croatia in order to obtain an online gambling licence in the country, SuperSport complied by opening up a few betting shops.
However, Croatian players never had any trouble accessing major foreign poker sites, even though they are technically unlicenced. There have been some rumors scaring local online players about a full-on online poker ban in 2018 – however, nothing came of it.
Grand Admiral Casino
Grand Admiral Casino is located in Croatia’s capital Zagreb and spans two floors. It offers several bars and dining options.
Platinum Casino Split
Platinum Casino Split is located on a peninsula on the Adriatic coast. It offers poker, slots, American Roulette, Black Jack, Oasis Poker, Platinum Poker, and 3 Card Poker.
Luckia Casino Osijek
Luckia Casino Osijek spreads a variety of games like slot machines, American Roulette, Black Jack or Caribbean Poker over 800m2.