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Albania to Relocate Gambling Out of Residential Areas

Gambling has exploded in Southeastern and Eastern Europe, in part due to lack of proper regulations of the industry.

10 October 2018

In a measure meant to tackle the spread of gambling in Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced that, by 31 December, all casinos operating in the country will have to relocate out of residential areas, according to AP.  Rama also noted that although the number of casinos has halved since 2013, from 40 to 20, the government’s gambling tax revenue has increased to $54 million (47 million euros) from $37 million over that time.

 

Two months ago, President Ilir Meta vetoed legislation meant to reduce gambling taxes, Tirana Times writes.

 

“The gambling business model does not produce added value for society; on the contrary the expansion of this industry brings potential risk that impoverishes Albanian households and causes social drama,” the president’s press office said, according to Tirana Times.  

 

Rama’s family has connections to the gambling industry. Earlier this year, the company of his brother’s business partner, Endri Meksi, won a concession to monitor the gambling business in Albania for the next 30 years – a deal that could end up being worth around $65 million to set up and run an IT system to fulfill that task, writes the Exit.al news site.

 

A gambling law adopted in 2015 and meant to control the industry more closely stipulated that it should be monitored through an online system providing data that would be used by the official Gambling Monitoring Agency.

 

Elsewhere in the Balkans, Bulgarian gambling operators have been raking in fat profits, which in 2017 totaled 3 billion lev (around $1.76 billion). The local market has doubled in a decade, according to Casino News Daily, partially due to revised gambling regulations introduced in 2013. These included tax breaks for gambling operators, which are not paying corporate tax but an alternative tax.

 

Last year, 49 Bulgarian gamblers hit the jackpot and became millionaires, according to data from The National Revenue Agency, cited by European Gaming. During the same year, wins totaled 627 million lev, with 13,447 Bulgarian gamblers scoring wins worth more than 5,000 lev each last year.

 

Scratchcards were the highest-grossing component of the Bulgarian gambling industry, Casino News Daily notes.

 

 

  • Back in 2016, Bosnia had the highest registered number of betting shops per resident in Europe, or one betting shop for 1,000 people, according to Balkan Insight, partly a result of the absence of an effective gambling law.   
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  • Minsk has been trying to attract Russian gamblers affected by a 2009 ban that restricted their activity to four special zones in the Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorsky regions of Russia. Although success has been limited so far, mostly because gambling has continued in Russia under other names and forms, new Belarusian legislation that will come into effect in April 2019 hopes to change that.
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  • Also in Eastern Europe, Moldova announced earlier this year that it would implement a public-private partnership project with two EU companies that would replace a monopoly on gambling previously held by Moldova's Public Property Agency, according to Balkan Insight.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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