Gambling and Online Casinos in Albania
In January 2019, the Albanian government prohibited sports betting and online casinos in order to avoid gambling addiction. Bingo halls are prohibited although television bingo and the national lottery are maintained. Casinos can operate only in five-star hotels and residential areas. In Albania, a country located in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, more than 50 physical casinos were operating and online casino games were legal until the new legislation.
Gambling Games in Albania
At the present time Albania has no legislative acts that would regulate operations of online casinos. There is no ban imposed on this type of websites, yet the providers can block certain individual resources. Online casinos in Albania are formally subjected to mandatory licensing, but so far there is no such thing as an algorithm of a procedure to obtain a permit for these kinds of operations.These are the top-ranking slots that Albanian players prefer most often: Ramses Treasure, Miss Liberty, Cleopatra Jewels, Fruits of Ra, Fruit Zen, Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest.
Albania has no developers of gaming software products. Nor is there any information about Albanian offices of foreign companies that specialise in this business. Albanian players especially favour the games made by such companies as IGT, Playtech and NetEnt.Today Albania has a Law on Gambling No.155/2015, which came into force at the beginning of 2016. The law lists the following varieties of gambling: Bingo, TV bingo, Sports betting, Betting on races, National lottery, Casino games, Casino games in resort areas and Online gambling.
The nation has a special government body that oversees the compliance with the gambling laws - the Gambling Monitoring Unit (Autoriteti i Mbikëqyrjes së Lojërave të Fatit). The regulator is authorised to exercise the following powers:
- Participating in an operator's licensing procedure
- Overseeing the compliance with the current law
- Examining the operator's documentation
In order to reduce gambling addiction among the local population, the authorities have introduced the option of voluntary limitation of access to gambling. An application can be submitted by the player or his/her relatives. Advertising of gaming establishments and websites in Albanian mass media is banned. A hotel that hosts a gambling establishment must have at least 5 stars. Gambling facilities must not be located in close proximity to religious or educational institutions. The minimum distance to these facilities must be at least 200 meters.
Each visitor must produce a personal identification upon entry. The minimum gambling age is 21. Violation of these provisions of the law will result in punishment with fines starting at 500,000 ALL going all the way to prison sentences. Albania uses the Central Online Monitoring System (COMS) to control gambling establishments. Any gambling facility must be linked to the system.
10 licensed casinos, 4 bookmaking offices, 4 bingo operators and the national lottery are operating in the country today. Licenses are issued by the Ministry of Finance (Ministria e Financave e Republikës së Shqipërisë) and Gambling Monitoring Unit. The operator should fill out an application and submit an appropriate package of documents along with it.
The license of any type will remain valid for 10 years. Founders that have no debts before the state or any problems with the law are ones who qualify. The operator must possess a guarantee fund in the amount of at least 5,000,000 ALL. Taxes on all categories of gambling are 15% of the profit of the establishment or the website. The license fee is 1,000,000,000 ALL. For businesses operating in resort areas this amount was lowered to 70,000,000 ALL.
Development of the Gambling Market in Albania
Demand for gambling games has increased significantly over the last decade, more so in recent years. According to various estimates, Albanians spend between 500,000,000 to 700,000,000 EUR on gambling each year spread to varying degrees over the various types of casino games, online gambling games , slot machines and classic fruit machines. There is nothing to suggest that this trend should faulter in the near future, rather, that it is set to continue.