Many European countries believe strongly in legalizing gambling, especially since it leads to revenue for countries that badly need it. This is the case for Eastern European countries. They have historically lagged behind the West because of the decades spent under communist rule. However, one of the countries in Eastern Europe, Albania, has decided to crack down on gambling rather than expand it. This is an interesting turn of events given that the country’s economy has not yet recovered from communism.
Gambling in Albania
Albania had only been an independent country for 30 years before World War II. It is in the Balkans and for years, a communist dictator ruled it. Now, the country is gradually moving away from a command economy and more toward a market economy.
Gambling in Albania is very restricted. There is only one casino in the entire country, which is in the capital, Tirana. The casino has 21 gaming tables and 250 slot machines with 18,000 square feet of gaming space. Albania also has slot machine halls in other areas of the country where people can go to gamble. When Albania became a republic in 1991, the government legalized several forms of gaming, including sportsbooks and lottery gaming. Interestingly, many Albanians do not gamble in Albania. Instead, they choose to gamble in sportsbooks and lotteries in Macedonia. In fact, the only lottery available in Albania that is legal is the American Lottery. The prize for this lottery is not money, but a free green card to go to America. Currently, there are sportsbook shops across the country (1,500 terminals), 190 slot machine halls, and nine bingo companies.
Why the Government Has an Issue with Gambling
As opposed to all the other countries in Europe, Albania is overwhelmingly Muslim. In Islam, gambling is illegal. Muslims consider it false idol worship (of money and gambling). Muslims also believe it is a waste of time. Devout Muslims have specific times for prayer and fasting. They also need to live a dutiful and obedient life to Allah’s commands. Because 70 percent of the citizens of Albania is Muslim, the government has historically had an issue with the notion of its citizens gambling.
The Albania government has been saying for years it has not done a good enough job managing the gambling locations. It also has been lax in its management of the gaming revenue. The government has also stated that online casinos based in other nations are illegal in Albania. However, that does not stop people from playing online games. The government has tried to regulate online gaming by forbidding transfers of money from offshore casino sites. But, Albanians have been getting around that rule by using electronic payment third-party apps, or cryptocurrency.
The government instituted a crackdown on online gaming, as well as illegal gaming machines, operating across the country. The country also seized legal slot machines and shut down several legitimate businesses across the country.
The Albanian government gave several reasons for the crackdown. It stated that it felt responsible for the religious growth of its citizens. Also, the government stated that many other countries are benefiting from illegal gambling while the country remains poor. The Albanian government says that many business operators in the country have not paid taxes that they owe. That is why the government closed down those businesses. And, according to the Albanian government, there have been crimes committed in these establishments. Some of the crimes include armed robbery, theft, and assault of people working in the building and players. The government felt it needed to step in and close some businesses down in order to regulate others.
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