Albania bans gambling at residential areas

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 25, 2018 16:13

Albania bans gambling at residential areas

TIRANA, Oct. 25 – Albania’s ruling Socialist Party turned into law some legal changes that impose a ban on the country’s widespread gambling industry to limit their operation to tourist areas, 5-star hotels and non-residential areas starting next January.

The legal changes, approved by 75 votes in a session boycotted by the opposition, also ban sports betting, including online betting, until a new decision which the government says could turn them into a state monopoly.

Prime Minister Edi Rama says the legal changes ban ‘electronic casinos and every kind of online and offline betting,’ giving a blow to what he calls slander on TVs, portals and opposition politicians following allegations of a new online monopoly.

Gambling is a completely privately-run industry in Albania where it officially generates more than €130 million in annual income, pays about €50 million in taxes and employs some 7,000 people, but much more if the informal sector is taken into account.

The government says it will provide free of charge vocational training courses to gambling affected staff who will find themselves jobless starting next January.

The ban on the booming sports betting industry comes following a two-year extension to a law disciplining gambling in downtown areas that was initially scheduled to become effective in January 2017 and is now set to become effective under new tougher amendments limiting gambling to 5-star hotels and non-residential areas that will be determined by the government.

The legal changes do not apply to TV bingos, including the National Lottery.

With Albanians spending an annual €130 million, a high amount for one of Europe’s poorest countries, gambling had become a national concern with a series of negative economic and social effects and often associated with higher domestic violence and divorces rates.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 25, 2018 16:13