Gambling in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small state in Southeast Europe, located in the Western part of the Balkan Peninsula. The country has one of the most complicated systems of state governance, since it consists of two autonomous administrative units: Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Virtually all forms of gambling, including the online gambling industry, are allowed in both of these political entities. Both offline and online gambling are regulated by the Republic Administration for Games of Chance (Republička uprava za igre na sreću), which works under the Ministry of Finance and Treasury of Bosnian Serb Republic.
Casinos In Bosnia and Herzegovina
All in all, the gambling industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina is developed quite well, especially compared to many other countries of the Balkan Peninsula. Two major land-based casinos are operating legally in the country today: the Colosseum Club casino — in Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Grand Casino — in Banja Luka (capital of Bosnian Serb Republic). Besides, there is a popular Admiral network of gaming clubs that is widespread in the country, as well as two lottery operators (LutrijaBiH in Sarajevo and Glory Leisure Banja Luka in Banja Luka), over 2,500 bookmaking offices and poker clubs.
As far as online gambling is concerned, it is legal in both Bosnian Serb Republic and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina In 2013 there were some attempts made to block the access to betting websites in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ban was repealed due to strong pressure from the community. But in Bosnian Serb Republic the attitude towards online gambling entertainment is much more lenient. Back in 2012 sports betting company named Williamso obtained its first license for running its Wwin website.
Gambling Games in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Players from Bosnia and Herzegovina are known to play American and French roulette, blackjack, Texas Hold'em and other varieties of poker. Slot machines have been in high demand as well. No information is available on any specific models. Yet it is a known fact that Bosnians, Croats and Serbians like to play such legendary slots as: Book of Ra Deluxe, Sizzling Hot, Lucky Lady's Charm, Zeus III, Cleopatra and Gonzo’s Quest, etc. No gaming software developers are known to be based in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Today online gambling is allowed both in Bosnian Serb Republic and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2011 the Govenerment of Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) issued its first license for providing online services to sports betting operator called Wwin. This company is in business to this day. Besides bets on sporting events, Wwin website features lotto, Texas Hold'em, slot machines, live casinos and virtual games. Any player who is not registered or has no record with the local bank will be blocked.
Another legitimate website in Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) is PlayRos.com. The website represents an online poker room, which also features casino games and mobile poker that uses Connective Games software, which is licensed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far players from Bosnia and Herzegovina have to resort to the services of foreign operators, since not a single license for online gambling has been issued. Players from Bosnia and Herzegovina can take advantage of 189 websites of foreign online casinos available in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages. Bets are accepted in the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (KM), Euros (EUR) and US Dollars (USD).
Legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gambling industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fully legal and regulated at the legislative level. Let's consider the principles of monitoring the gambling industry with an example of Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska). Here it is regulated by the following regulatory legislative acts:
- The Gambling Law (Zakon o igrama na sreću) dated 07.11.2012
- Regulations on Gambling (Pravilnik o igrama na sreću) dated 31.12.2013
- The Income Tax Law (Zakon o porezu na dohodak) dated 28.06.2015
- Amendments to the Income Tax Law (Ispravka Zakona o porezu na dohodak) dated 25.01.16
Acting legislation regulates the following:
- The system and conditions for setting up gambling operations
- Payment for preparation and operation
- Taxes on winnings
- Monitoring the compliance with obligations as stated by law
- Crimes and punishments in the area of gambling
The Acts regulate the conditions for issuing permits to run gambling entertainment, the inspection procedure for overseeing payments of fees and taxes, technical conditions for running electronic games, etc. According to the acting legislation, gambling is defined as games whose result fully or mainly depends on chance or an uncertain event. These are the varieties of such games that are allowed in the country's territory: Lotteries — including lotteries, express lotteries, instant lotteries, TV Tombola, lotto, TV lotto, classical bingo, keno, sports lottery, bookmaking, fountain game, etc, electronic games — electronic bingo and special games — casino games (craps, baccarat, blackjack, poker, punto banco etc.), betting, slot machines and online games. Contests are subdivided into the following categories classical contests and bookmaking organised with systems of telecommunications. Only people aged 18 or older are allowed to take part in any kind of gambling entertainment. Any advertising of gambling establishments and services that they provide, on TV or radio, is prohibited by law.
Gambling regulators in Bosnian the Serb Republic
Gambling in the territory of the state is monitored by the Republic Administration for Games of Chance (Republička uprava za igre na sreću). This administrative body works under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury of Bosnian Serb Republic. The Administration was set up in accordance with the Law on Republic's Administration (Zakon o republickoj upravi). According to the provisions of the Gambling Law and Article No.38 of the Law, the Republic Administration for Games of Chance carries out administrative duties among other professional duties that deal with:
- Issuance and revocation of concessions on gambling games, entertaining games and prize games
- Establishing and monitoring the compliance with requirements for premises, as well as technical and informational requirements necessary for running gambling operations
- Issuance of special tags authorising to organise and conduct gambling games in casinos, clubs with slot machines, bookmaking offices etc
- Issuance of stickers to mark and register slot machines, gaming tables, terminals and entertainment machines
- Authorising the rules of the games
- Accepting, processing, entering and renewing tax declarations for the operations associated with gambling entertainment
- Authorising the distribution of Tombola cards during the preparation of a classical lotto
- Inspecting the premises where gambling games are to be organised
- Analysing the actions that are linked to gambling entertainment, whether directly or indirectly, business books, reports, information systems and other documents or pieces of information that would define the organiser
- Conducting inspections of the organiser
- Enforcement of the rules, laws and other regulatory acts in the area of gambling
- Preparing draft bylaws
- Making decisions in the process of monitoring
- Considering the objectives, duties and other tasks in compliance with the legislation and other regulatory acts of the Serb Republic
Work within the competence of the Administration is carried out by the following organisational divisions: the Department of Financial, Legal and Common Issues, the Department of Permission, Coordination, Processing and Analysis of Tax Declarations and the Inspection Department.
Gambling License in the Serb Republic
Gambling can be organised and conducted by legal entities that have their corporate headquarters in the territory of the Republic. The company's founders or officials must have a clear criminal record, other than traffic violations, as long as they are in compliance with the conditions stipulated by the law. When granting a concession or license, the following is being assessed: premises, jobs, prior financial indexes and the company's creditworthiness, compliance with tax duties and other duties by companies and the owners thereof and volumes of gambling games being organised from the standpoint of the tourist supply etc. To be granted a concession or a license, the company must have a minimum of authorised capital in the amount of:
- Classical Tombola - at least 200,000 КМ
- Casino games - at least 200,000,000 КМ
- Electronic gambling games - at least 50,000 КМ
- Bookmaking - at least 500,000 КМ
- Slot machines - at least 500,000 КМ
- Online games - at least 100,000,000 КМ
If the company applies for a license to organise several types of gambling entertainment, it must have the overall volume of minimum authorised capital outlined in the "conventional lotto" section for each license issued. A company that was granted a concession or a license must retain the authorised capital throughout the entire term of validity of this permit. One-time license fee:
- Classical Tombola - 50,000 КМ
- Electronic games and casino games - 100,000 КМ
- Bookmaking - 100,000 КМ
- Slot machines - 10,000 КМ
- Online games - 200,000 КМ
This fee is paid when the license is issued and cannot be refunded to the organiser if the license is not used. The license is issued by Director of the Republic Administration for Games of Chance upon the request by the organiser. The license will remain valid for 5 years. Upon the expiration of the term, the organiser can extend it for another five or 10 years provided that the requirements set by the Gambling Law have been complied with. Application for an extension of the license must be submitted no later than six months before expiry. The license must contain:
- The name of the company and its location
- Types of gambling services that can be provided
- Date of commencement of the company's operations
- Term of validity of the license
- Provisions of other rights and duties of the organiser
- Amount and method of payment for the license
License can be revoked if:
- It was issued based on false information
- The organiser did not start the games within the timeframe indicated on the license
- One of the conditions necessary for obtaining the license was omitted
- The organiser avoids or prevents the monitoring as outlined in the gaming legislation
- Provides false revenue figures
- Borrows money from players
- Does not maintain the amount of the initial capital indicated by the gaming legislation
The decision to revoke the license is also made by the Director of the Administration once one or several reasons for suspension have been found. Organisers must have an appropriate computer system that would store the data of all games and could be linked to the Administration's central computer network.
Gambling Tax in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Taxes are paid on winnings from lotteries (except for classical Tombola and the rewards received in the form of goods or services). A taxpayer of this kind can be any person who earns a profit from gambling. A tax rate of 15% is applied to the amount of winnings that are equal to or exceed 1,000 КМ. The organiser must maintain a record of all amounts of the income tax. No later than the 15th day of each month the organiser must pay the tax and submit the report for the previous month.
Development of Gambling Market in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gambling industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina is legal and well-developed. Since today the country has one of the poorest economies (due to the past wars), the gambling industry provides a crucial venue to attract extra income into the state budget. There are two major and quite popular land-based casinos operating in the country, a large number of bookmakers and two lottery operators. Each year these facilities replenish the country's budget with substantial amounts. A big chunk of their profits does not come from the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but from tourists who come here from all over the world to enjoy the local sightseeing.
The only problem in the gambling industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina is its complex system of state governance related to the division of the country into two autonomous parts: Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These two state entities have slightly different views on online gambling. This is why in Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) there are two gambling websites operating legally. Yet at the same time in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the authorities have tried to ban online gambling altogether. This is the reason why Bosnian players have to go to the websites of foreign operators. In order for the gambling market to prosper and bring even more profits, the government should conduct reasonable reforms in the area of gambling and rearrange the management system in the country as a whole.