Albania, gambling at the crossroads

Saturday, 16 November 2013

 

-by Oana Mihalache

Albania is officially known as the Republic of Albania and is situated in the Southeastern Europe, bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. The country is a member of UN, NATO, Council of Europe, World Trade Organization and one of the founding Members for the Union for the Mediterranean. Along history, the territory of Albania was part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Macedonia and Moesia Superior. Albania became an independent country in 1912 and was recognized one year later.

The Voice of Legal Gambling

There is one legal gambling facility in the whole country that consists strictly of casinos, the only type of gambling that is legal in Albania. Tirana, the capital city, hosts the most casinos in the country that has one casino facility and several slot machines halls. The biggest casino in this city is Regency Casino Tirana, with 21 table games and 241 casino slot machines, video poker games or other video terminal gaming machines. This huge casino is open daily from 2 PM to 6 AM and has 18,300 square foot gaming space. This casino operates under strict international regulations and in full conformity with the Albanian legislation regarding casino operations. Regency Casino Tirana has already created more than 230 new, fully insured jobs, of which 190 are occupied by Albanian citizens.

Despite the fact that 70% of the population are Muslims, the Albanian gambling laws created a legal environment for casino gambling, sports betting and lottery. After 1991, when Albania began to remove Communist restrictions, sports betting and lottery games became legal. Even though gambling laws in Albania have been evolving for nearly 20 years, the Albanians seem intent on conforming to the standard European Union approach to gaming laws.

Passion for Gambling across Borders

It is said that both sports betting and lottery games have been popular in Albania since the early 1990’s and like most Europeans do, Albanians love to wager on football matches. Another attraction is represented by the nearby Macedonian Lottery. If one searches for an official state lottery in Albania, chances are that indications lead to the American Lottery. Despite that, cash prizes are not involved, but a green card to go to America, the land of all possibilities. Those who do that must keep in mind that Albania is one of the poorest nations in Europe.

Numbers and statistics

The legalization of casino gambling implied some social costs and economical changes in the country, according to a study conducted by Menada Petro, lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Tirana. The results show that legalized gambling has brought economic benefits to some communities and gambling had a strong impact on society at large. Official information counted 1500 centers of sports betting , 190 electronic casinos and 9 national bingo companies in Albania.

The political opposition claims that the current government failed to manage controlling gambling, and denies the claims for the decrease of fiscal evasion. The changes in the law protect the player and guarantee him the withdrawal of the profit.

Online gaming

Government regulations in Albania are lax enough to allow citizens to play casino games for real money without worrying about legal sanctions, even though online casinos that are based in Albania are not plentiful. Even though many of the major casinos will allow Albanian players to register and play for real money, there is often an issue or currency conversion.

Gamblers will need to make sure that the site of choice will accept the currency that their deposit method will process funds in. A common method used by Albanian citizens for online casino play is Neteller, a third party payment processor that offers a buffer between your credit card and financial information and the casino site of your choice.

Massive operation against illegal gambling businesses

 

At the middle of October 6000 police agents have been ordered by Interior Minister to inspect and seize gambling machine saloons throughout the country.

The police operation seized a large number of gambling businesses that have not paid taxes or that are unlicensed. Having more gambling businesses, the Albanian capital, Tirana, had a higher concentration of agents. Police said that they have seized many gambling businesses also in Durres, Korce and Vlore.

Sources at the Interior Ministry said that these businesses have also been a source of several crimes. The operation will be followed by criminal prosecution against everyone who has committed tax evasion or that have worked without a license. According to the police, they will make frequent controls to avoid illegal business in the future.

 





Author: Editor

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