Gambling in Macedonia
Gambling in Macedonia is legal for all people of the age of majority. Over 5 land-based establishments are operating in the country. Operations of online casinos are also legal, according to laws in Macedonian. Slot machines, sports betting and poker are especially sought after in Macedonia. Gambling legislation in Macedonian authorises operations of casinos, arcade halls and bookmaking offices. Operations of gambling websites are not regulated so far, but the authorities are working on it.
Gambling Games in Macedonia
These are the models that are most played in the casinos that are visited by Macedonian players the most: Jackpot Giant, Age of the Gods, Jungle Trouble, Starburst, Twin Spin, Gonzo’s Quest and Aloha Cluster Pays. Macedonia has no local developers of gaming software products. Subsidiaries of companies such as Spielo, eGaming, etc. are located on the nation's territory. According to ratings of online casinos, Macedonian players favour the products of Playtech and NetEnt.
Today the gambling industry in Macedonia is regulated by the Law on Games of Chance and Entertainment Games, which came into effect in 2011. The law stipulates that these are the types of gambling that are subject to licensing in the country: forecasts of sporting events, lotteries, casino games, slot machines, Lotto and instant lotteries.
Online casinos in Macedonia
Today the legislative acts that would regulate online gambling in Macedonia are still in the beginning stage. A monopoly is planned to be set up in this segment. According to the legislation that the government is currently considering, the state must own at least 51% of the companies that run online casinos. A special state-run enterprise is expected to be set up, which will specialise in this area. Today some of the gambling websites are being blocked in the Macedonian cyberspace. Just like in other countries, it is not the most convincing factor for Macedonian players, especially when no responsibility is implied for using the services of online casinos. According to the statistics, about 72% of the adult male population in Macedonia under the age of 25 place bets on sporting events on a regular basis. Over 70 bookmakers have been licensed in the country.
To apply for a license, permission must be granted by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia (Vladata na Republika Makedonija) and Macedonian Ministry of Finance (Ministerstvoto za finansii). The licensing process can take up to 9 months. The licensee must possess the authorised capital of at least 2,500,000 EUR or the equivalent amount in the local currency. The company must also provide a bank guarantee in the amount of 300,000 EUR at the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia (Narodnata banka na Republika Makedonija). The gaming premises must be equipped appropriately and have a separate entrance. Casinos cannot be located near any educational institutions. If a gaming establishment opens at a hotel complex, the facility must belong to a tourist infrastructure and have no less than four stars. Administration of the gambling house must restrict access to minors. Macedonia provides an opportunity to open halls with slot machines on an individual basis. To qualify for a license for this type of operations, the applicant must have the statutory fund of at least 450,000 EUR. The size of the premises must be at least 200 square meters. Compliance with gambling legislation in Macedonia is monitored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Ministerstvoto za vnatreni raboti), Macedonian Tax Administration (Upravata za javni prihodi) and the Ministry of Finance.
Development of the Gambling Market in Macedonia
Tourism is one of the key branches of Macedonian economy. The Republic has a number of well frequented ski resorts and therapeutic spa resorts. Availability of land-based gaming establishments is a powerful tool to attract tourists, by which one can predict the further development of this segment. So far no signs have been spotted that the government will ever decide to ban or restrict the access to gambling. Online casinos are most likely to remain a publicly available entertainment. Since 2005 the country has been a candidate for membership in the European Union, where the attitude towards virtual gambling is quite lenient. One can predict that in order to adapt to the EU legislation, Macedonia will avoid clamping down on online casinos. The licensing procedure for foreign operators will probably not be the easiest one due to the introduction of the state monopoly, but it is unlikely to affect ordinary players. Besides, if Macedonia joins the European Union, the existence of the state monopoly on online gambling will go against the requirements of the EU Commission. Gambling in Macedonia is a in high deman and is also accessible as a form of entertainment. Players are given the opportunity to choose from an impressive number of land-based establishments. The gambling industry is at the stage of its development and may soon demonstrate rapid growth.