Albania is taking significant steps towards ending its five-year prohibition on sports betting, with a draft law recently passing for consideration in the Albanian Parliament. The initial Gambling Law of 2015 defined permissible games of chance, regulated industry conditions, and outlined oversight responsibilities. However, since 2018, Albania has strictly banned gambling activities, except for those within state-sanctioned casinos.
In spite of this ban, data from the supervisory authority of the gambling industry indicates that sports betting has persisted through informal channels. This situation has led to the introduction of the current legal initiative, aimed at reintroducing sports betting but exclusively in the form of “online sports betting”. This reintroduction will come with stringent anti-money laundering and customer compliance requirements (the “Draft Law”).
The primary objective of the Draft Law is to establish a regulated online gambling market, which will be served by licensed businesses with substantial experience in the field of sports betting. These businesses will be subject to real-time monitoring by law enforcement institutions. Additionally, the Draft Law proposes the creation of a Special Fund, funded by the income generated from gambling activities. This fund will primarily support projects in the areas of sports, culture, innovation, and innovative technology, as well as finance player protection programs.
Concerning potential online sports betting operators, the Draft Law establishes rigorous criteria, limiting the issuance of licenses to only ten qualified entities, determined through a competitive selection process. Applicants must be Albanian entities organized as joint-stock companies, meeting specific capital requirements. Shareholders and managers must meet rigorous fit and proper standards, and providing documentation verifying the source of capital is mandatory to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering provisions. Noteworthy, administrative and management capabilities are also critical factors in the evaluation process, in addition to a minimum of three years’ experience in the games of chance industry in EU or OECD countries, coupled with a minimum turnover of EUR 20 million from the previous financial year.
Furthermore, while the Draft Law outlines basic software requirements, it delegates the establishment of detailed software regulations to be defined through secondary legislation at a later stage.
In summary, these legal amendments aim to provide a robust foundation for a revitalized gambling industry operating within a secure environment. Additionally, they create an additional revenue stream for the government. This comprehensive approach to online sports betting regulation reflects Albania’s commitment to ensuring transparency, integrity, and responsible gambling practices in the industry.
The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.
By Alban Caush and Anisa Rrumbullaku, Partners, and Ermal Mema Associate, Karanovic & Partners