On October 25 2018, the Albanian government approved the changes to the law on gambling which will become effective as of January 1, 2019. The changes will have an essential impact on the gambling industry; the second largest employer in Albania, after the energy sector.
Sports betting and slot machines will be closed until December 31, 2018 and will be available only online. The only related activities that will continue to be allowed to operate include gambling at casino resorts & large hotels out of residential areas, bingo games on TV and the national lottery.
In addition, a decision which suspends the activity of the Albanian Gambling Supervision Authority has been published, due to its restructuring.
The new law is expected to impact income tax revenues as well as employment. The government considers these effects irrelevant when compared to the negative social effect of gambling and the high risk of money laundering.
The turnover of the gambling industry last year was around EUR 130 Million, an amount which is to be taken with a grain of salt as the Gambling Supervision Authority estimated that the declared income from this sector are less than a half of the actual income, with the other part remaining unofficial. The effect in the state income would be a decrease in the revenue from tax on gambling which was estimated at around EUR 40 Million.
Sports betting became an undisputable social phenomenon in recent years. It is estimated that Albania – a country of 2.8 million people - is currently home to more than 4,000 sports betting locations all over the republic. The spread of the gambling industry in the urban centers showed its negative effects in the Albanian households and caused concerns about its impact on low-income families.
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