According to the association of sports betting companies (HUZIS), illegal sports betting shops get around 3 billion kuna (€406 million) every year, out of the 8 billion kuna (€1.08 billion) total that Croatians spend every year on sports betting.
Billions of kuna are spent on illegal betting over the Internet, i.e. online betting websites based abroad which are not licensed to offer this service in Croatia, HUZIS said on Wednesday.
The association said that the betting industry in Croatia pays some 750 million kuna (€101 million) in concession fees, monthly fees and taxes directly into the state budget, in addition to some 300 million kuna (€40.6 million) in indirect payments via various taxes and VAT.
This results in around 1 billion kuna of income generated in government revenue every year by the sector, which, according to HUZIS estimates, is equivalent to the revenue lost to sports betting companies which are illegal in Croatia.
Other European countries faced the same problem, and some have moved to solve it by blocking IP addresses and/or financial transactions of illegal sports betting shops. These include Denmark, France, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary, and Romania.
And according to Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, these could be joined by Croatia in 2019.
"We are intensively working on that, we are currently comparing positive experiences from other countries and we believe that a new round changes to tax regulations will include a quality solution to this problem, including some of the measures mentioned," Maric told Vecernji List daily.
Maric had earlier announced that changes to the tax code could come into force in early 2019.
(€1 = 7.39 kuna)