Gambling in Serbia
Gambling in Serbia is legal - a country of South-Eastern Europe with a legal gambling business. To date, gambling in the country is strictly regulated. As for 2017, Serbian legislative provisions clearly define the system of organisation and taxation in the sectors of lottery business, sports betting, casino games, poker games, as well as all types of online gambling. The government continues to work on the transformation of gambling laws seeking to completely close the black market and ensure full legalisation of all gambling institutions in offline and online fields.
Gambling Games in Serbia
Currently, online gambling in Serbia is actively developing. There are 4 "local" operators in the country: Mozzart, Balkanbet, MaxBet and RMco. Originally created as a bookmakers, today they have their own casinos. Operators are engaged in the distribution and promotion of content of international game software manufacturers. Citizens of the country are allowed to visit multilingual online casinos where Serbian is also available. Playing for Serbian dinars is available just in a few places. This online currency is only accepted by online bookmakers 1xBet and Big Bet World. However, given the dynamic development of the market, we can expect that this list will grow.
Gambling legislation in Serbia
Gambling business in Serbia has a long history. It was used as a tool for the development of economic and tourist industries after the Second World War, even during the existence of Yugoslavia. The first official law on gambling was adopted by the authorities in the sixties. According to its provisions, gambling was divided into two broad categories: Classic games and Special gambling. Around the same time, the first casino appeared in Belgrade. This law served as the basis for the organisation of gambling until the 1990s. As the crisis came, most of the casinos escaped into the shadow economy. A milestone in the development of the industry began in the early 2000s. In 2001, seeking to restore the legality of the gambling business, the government of Serbia created a new legislative act. According to its provisions, the state received a monopoly on activities of all casinos and gambling halls. In 2004 another transformation in the industry happened. The country's government adopted a new law on gambling. It entered into force in 2005 and divided gambling into 4 categories: Classical gambling - various kinds of lotteries including lotto and bingo, Special gambling: roulette, card games, dice, video slots and additional entertainment in land-based casinos, Online games and Games where participants play against each other. The government still has the monopoly right to support the gambling industry. 5 licenses were issued for opening a casino in Belgrade by 2008. Loutraki hotel-casino became the largest gambling institution. Representatives of the Serbian gambling association JAKTA positively assessed the effect of the Law adopted in 2004. According to the president of the association Mirjana Acimovic, the new provisions had a positive impact on the development of the industry. In particular, before the introduction of this act, slightly more than 5,000 slot machines and about 300 bookmakers were registered, according to official data. After, 78 operators were legalised in the country and they are holders of 15,000 slots and more than 1,700 sweepstakes.
The latest legislative changes that have completed the current system of gambling regulation were considered in 2011 and came into force in 2012. As a result, the government of Serbia has lost its monopoly on the organisation of online games. Such a decision allowed the market to be opened for all international operators with appropriate licenses. At the same time, the authorities of the country began an actively struggle against shadowy foreign websites. In just a few months, about 70 portals were blocked. Among them are websites of well-known brands including Bwin, William Hill, and Bet365. According to the government, the negative consequences of this decision are compensated by the appearance of local websites. However, their number is rather limited. The mentioned companies still have the opportunity to develop the Serbian market. This time on legal terms. To obtain the right to provide services, it is necessary to get the appropriate license. An interesting feature of the Serbian legislation was tax system for players. Users who receive a win from sports betting must pay a 15% tax on profits. At the same time, wins received in poker or slot machines are not taxed.
Today, the gambling industry in Serbia is under the control and supervision of several departments: Games of Chance Administration, GCA. The department's tasks include issuing licenses, monitoring the activities of all land-based casinos and online gambling portals and Tax Administration under the Ministry of Finance. It also checks compliance with the legislative requirements, audits financial transactions and controls the payment of fees and taxes In addition, the Ministry of Defense directly participates in the control of gambling in Serbia. Gambling equipment and software are verified in certified laboratories and institutions operating under its auspices.
According to the Gambling Act of 2011, licenses are issued separately for each category of gambling. Documents are valid for 10 years. However, the owner of the gambling business pays monthly fees and appropriate taxes. The size of bets depends on the type of activity. In particular, the cost of a license for online casinos is EUR 2,500 monthly. The tax rate is 15% of the total income but not less than EUR 7,500 per month. Only Serbian companies (legal entities that are registered in the territory of the country) with a capital of at least EUR 250,000 can apply for licenses. In addition, potential licensees undertake to form a guarantee bank fund - EUR 150,000. When applying for a license, the operator must specify: Name and address of the company, Registration data and Documents confirming the availability of the necessary amount of money, their sources and a number of other documents. Additional information to be provided is detailed descriptions of IT systems, their backup storage, backup recovery procedures in case of an emergency and technical documentation confirming the reliability of the future online casino.
Development of the Gambling Industry in Serbia
Despite the legalisation of the gambling business and opening markets for foreign operators, a large percentage of underground casinos still remain in the country. The fight against illegal institutions continues to this day. But there are also positive changes: the introduction of effective laws and regulations contributes to the advancement of the industry. Many well-known manufacturers show their interest in the development of the country's market. In particular, contracts for the supply of software are concluded with Oryx, Playtech, NetEnt and others. The emergence of new operators and online gambling portals attracts more and more local players. Given these factors, we can predict the success of the development of gambling in Serbia. Although it might not be as dynamic as we would like.