Gambling in Kosovo
Gambling in Kosovo is legal. The volume of the legal gambling market is assessed by the amounts of taxes collected. In the first half of 2016, for example, the Kosovo Customs collected over 1 million EUR. This is 24% more than was collected over the same period in 2015. Gambling legislation has provided the legal protection to required to attract investment and the volume of the illegal market is estimated at around 100 million EUR. It is believed that the gambling industry in Kosovo is mainly used for money laundering. The main legal instrument implementing gambling legislation in Kosovo is Law No. 04/L-080 On Games of Chance published in 2012.
Gambling Games in Kosovo
Below is the list of the most used slots among the people of Kosovo: Joker Spin, Continent Africa, Wild Wild West, Book of Ra Deluxe and Divine Fortune Joker Spin is a slot by BF Games that comes with 5 reels and 20 paylines. The slot features a risk game and a round of free spins. Continent Africa is a slot by BF Games that comes with 5 reels and 20 paylines, a series of free spins and a risk game. Wild Wild West is a slot by NetEnt that comes with 5 reels and 10 paylines. The slot provides an opportunity to earn a round of free spins and activate 4 types of Wild symbols. The bonus round will increase the reward up to 50 times. Book of Ra Deluxe is a five-reel slot by Novomatic that comes with 10 paylines. The slot features a risk game and a round of free spins. Divine Fortune is a slot by NetEnt that comes with 5 reels and 20 paylines. You have a chance to win a round of free spins and some re-spins. The bonus game will earn you a big reward with the multiplier of up to x200.
Gaming legislation was introduced in Kosovo quite recently. For example, the main law was passed in 2012, and the gaming regulator was formed in 2000. The efficiency of the legislation is questionable: the country has a large illegal market, but online gambling is banned.
Tax Administration Kosovo (TAK) is a regulator of the gambling industry in this country. The Administration was set up in 2000. Its objectives are to collect taxes and monitor compliance with the law. The Administration also oversees the gambling industry in Kosovo. Organising and conducting of gambling in the country is regulated by TAK. Persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to play - whether by themselves or through third parties. Sharing the winnings with them, which were earned through gambling, is also prohibited.
Online games in Kosovo are banned. But this small country has no resources to make one comply with this law. People of Kosovo are playing on any international websites. So far no news has been reported that the government is ever going to tackle the issue of online gambling legislation.
TAK issues the following types of licenses:
- To run casinos - for 3 years with a possible extension
- To produce and supply slot machines - for 2 years with extension
- To run slot machines - for 2 years also
- To provide retail sites for slot machines - for 2 years
- To set up sports betting points of sale - 2 years
- To organise bingo tombola - 2 years
The casino license cannot be transferred to third parties. The license is issued to physical persons or companies engaged in any type of casino business. The license for production and distribution is issued to ones who import, produce and distribute slot machines in the territory of Kosovo. A permit to run slot machines is issued to those who place and run slot machines on special sites. The slots must only be acquired from licensed manufacturers or distributors. The retail license only authorises the provision of slot machines, and no other games. The license holder must maintain the exclusive right of ownership on the site for slot machines. The number of slot machines must be at least 10. Each slot machine must have its own inventory number. The license for sports betting only authorises the services associated with betting on sporting events. The bingo tombola license — likewise. A physical person or a legal entity can obtain several licenses for one gambling site.
The Kosovo law prescribes the following conditions for the operators:
- The operator must have a clear criminal record in Kosovo or any other country
- The operator is not engaged in any illicit activities during the gambling operations
- The operator does not pose any threat to the interests of the Republic of Kosovo
- The operator has experience in operating a gambling business or business as a whole
- The operator funds the business from legal sources
The license cannot be obtained by law enforcement officers, judges or government officials. The application for a license must contain proof of the operator's reliability: the operator must have safety capital and initial capital procured from legal sources. The operator must also present the business plan, information about the gaming site, its structure, internal structure of the casino and the rules for all games being featured. The casino must be located in a separate building or in a hotel that has at least 4 stars. The size of the premises must be at least 500 square meters, including the hotel and other facilities. The operator must be the owner or co-owner of the premises, or sign a rental contract for the premises for offering gambling entertainment exclusively. The casino must have at least three gaming tables, a cash register and an exchange office. Video surveillance must be provided as well. The casino must be located more than 1.5 kilometres away from educational and religious institutions, historical sites and municipal buildings.
Licensed varieties of gambling
These are the types of gambling that are allowed in Kosovo: Lotteries, Casinos, Sports betting, Slot machines and Bingo tombola. The law in Kosovo prohibits a whole list of games such as: Electronic games, Online games, Horse racing and Games based on the geometric progression principle. Entertainment of calculator-type games, simulator-type games or games on other digital devices, as well as games that are played with tokens (where players do not get any monetary rewards) are not considered as gambling. Nor do promotions or advertising (such as promo lotteries) with rewards fall under the definition of gambling. Values of prizes must not exceed 1,000 monetary units.
Lottery in Kosovo
Lottery in Kosovo is a state monopoly. All lottery games are run by Lottery of Kosovo. The Board of Directors of this organisation consists of 5 members. Their tenure in office is 2 years. High-ranking government officials, top activists of political parties or relatives of top managers of Lottery of Kosovo cannot be members of the Board. The Board of Directors performs the following functions: analyses and endorses the annual plan, analyses the reports for the previous year, gets involved in the process of issuing tickets, approves the rules of the games, presents the gaming initiatives to the Ministry of Finance and lottery of Kosovo is a subordinate of the Ministry of Finance and can organise games in cooperation with operators from other countries.
Slot machines must be certified and obtained from licensed suppliers. A certificate is issued only if the slot complies with all requirements stated by law. Certification is conducted by an independent laboratory. The certificate remains valid for 2 years. The operator must place the rules of the game where players can see them. The rules are approved by TAK and must include the following items: information about the operator, information and instructions for the game, methods by which winnings in each game are calculated and information about winning tickets or any other similar instrument, as well as about the payout period and procedure.
A casino is defined as a site for conducting table games and other games played by using balls, dice or cards. The games include: roulette, boules, chemin de fer, blackjack and other games. The initial capital of the casino operator must be at least 2,000,000 EUR. The insurance must be of the same amount. The insurance is required to ensure that all winnings will be paid to the players.
Development of the Gambling Market in Kosovo
So far the situation in Kosovo remains tense, including the issues with the gambling industry. TAK has been constantly shutting down illegal sites and reporting about it on its website. For example, in January 2017 22 facilities were shut down. No news has been reported that the authorities are ever planning to change the gaming legislation. The gambling industry in Kosovo is almost totally in the grey zone or completely illegal. The existing laws do not meet the modern-day requirements. Online gambling is still outlawed, and poker is only available in licensed establishments. So, in order for the country to start raking in some decent profits from gambling, the state should change its legislation.