The government of Albania has announced plans to crack down on the gaming industry, relocating betting shops away from residential areas and banning online casinos.
Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed that by the end of December all betting shops will need to have closed or moved to the outskirts of the capital, Tirana, while iGaming will be banned entirely.
At present it is is unclear if landbased casino venues will also be required to close, amid conflicting reports.
“Starting from 31 December 2018, all online casinos will cease to exist”, Rama stated, speaking during a news conference on 9 October. “This news will be more than welcomed by Albanian families.”
The prime minister highlighted that while the number of casinos in Albania has fallen by half in recent years, dropping from 40 in 2013, the government’s gambling tax revenue has increased to €47m from €32m five years ago.
Rama also warned media outlets to cease all gambling advertising within 24 hours or face serious consequences, including having their operations “closed by force.”
“The current law forbids advertising of bookmakers and gambling and this law has been violated by all media without exception, therefore I am warning them that they have 24 hours to remove all adverts of this nature,” he added.
Along with the new restrictions, the government has suspended the activities of the nation’s Gambling Commission until 31 December, in order to prepare a “new regime” that will “license and control gambling activity remotely through the internet.”
In addition to its 20 casinos and the national lottery, Albania currently has an estimated 3,000 betting shops, while around 2,200 electronic gambling machines are registered in the country.