Albania’s government has (somewhat) clarified its plans to restrict the country’s land-based and online gambling operations.
Earlier this month, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama informed the media that all gambling venues – be they casinos, slots halls or the country’s thousands of betting shops – would have to relocate to the outskirts of towns and cities by December 31 or face the government’s wrath.
Rama further declared that the nation’s Gambling Commission would be shut down until the new year, to allow for the introduction of a “new regime” that would “license and control gambling activity remotely through the internet.”
But confusion set in almost immediately following Rama’s announcements, particularly regarding the fate of online gambling. On October 4, Rama had tweeted that “gambling and this online monopoly will both die on New Year’s Eve.” On October 16, Rama told a local TV station that “there will be permission for online [gambling] that will be in a second phase” following the January 1 shutdown.
On October 18, the Tirana Times said the government was mulling “the possibility of treating sports betting and betting on races as a state monopoly and allow their operation by specially set up state structures.”
On October 19, local media outlet Exit quoted Rama telling parliament that “the ‘online’ part of [the gambling revamp] is very complex, as other countries show, and that we will reach a well-studied conclusion on which we can have a further discussion later on.”
On October 23, Balkan Insight reported that Albania’s Parliamentary Commission on the Economy had approved the proposed legislation to ban retail gambling outlets while adding a clause that will ensure the closure of the nation’s monopoly online betting business. Parliament is expected to vote on the legislation by 1st November.