Draft Gambling Legislation Proposed in Albania

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In Albania and the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama has proposed legislation that would look to end the nation’s partial five-year prohibition on sports betting and gambling.

The Balkan country of approximately 2.8 million people outlawed all gambling not offered via state-sanctioned casinos in 2018 but now wants to reverse this move as the initial prohibition is believed to have failed in meeting its stated aim of substantially reducing organized crime.

The draft legislation composed by the nation’s Ministry of Finance and Economy would look to establish a regulated online gambling market featuring strict licensing, anti-money laundering and customer compliance directives. The measure’s language would also mandate that iGaming operators accept only digital payments rendered via ‘authorized agents’ such as Western Union or domiciled banks and financial institutions licensed by the Bank of Albania and hold on to punters’ personal data for a minimum of three years.

This measure from the Ministry of Finance and Economy would oblige iGaming operators to only accept wagers from registered players with such firms moreover required to guarantee winnings and keep a minimum of €1.5 million in a ‘designated bank account’ that should ‘never be less than 5% of all deposits made by players in the previous financial year’.

An additional provision of the draft legislation would compel all licensed iGaming operators to register with Albania’s National Business Centre, which is a process set to incorporate a detailed review of all shareholder and management interests so as to exclude those with criminal convictions or facing serious prosecution.

The measure is to furthermore look to establish a special fund to be financed by a 15% corporate income tax on iGaming operators for the support of sports, culture and welfare projects. State institutions are to correspondingly be allowed to pitch for some of this cash so as to top up any existing financing.

In the land-based realm and the draft legislation proposes requiring casino operators to pay a 15% corporate income tax and commit to depositing 0.4% of their annual turnover into this special fund. The measure goes on to suggest that the national lottery should hand over 5.4% of its annual turnover to this peculiar repository.

Albania was home to more than 4,700 gambling shops before the institution of the partial ban in 2018 while the intervening years have seen local law enforcement authorities conduct a number of operations to crack down on illicit wagering. The proposed legislation would also not look to place a limit on the number of licenses issued or accounts that can be simultaneously enjoyed.

Rama’s government declared that the ‘stringent requirements set forth in the law’ would look to ‘promote responsible gambling while discouraging illicit betting activities’ and create an additional revenue stream for a multitude of state-backed programs.

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