Date: 23.02.2024

by Mateusz Mazur

Albania Reopens Doors to Online Sports Betting to Curb Black Market

In a significant policy reversal, the Albanian parliament has unanimously voted to lift the five-year-old ban on online sports betting, aiming to clamp down on the burgeoning black market that has thrived despite stringent gambling prohibitions.

Strategic Shift to Regulate the Betting Landscape

This unanimous decision, made on February 9, 2024, by all 75 members present in the parliament, represents a pivotal shift from the comprehensive gambling ban instituted half a decade ago.

Documents from the Albanian economy ministry indicate that the move to reverse the ban is driven by a need to control and regulate the rampant illegal betting activities that have persisted under the radar, feeding into an underground economy.

Selective Licensing to Ensure Responsibility

The new regulations stipulate that only a select group of 10 betting companies, possessing prior operational experience, will be eligible to secure licenses for running online sports betting platforms.

This cautious approach underscores the government’s commitment to fostering a responsible and transparent betting environment. “We aim to collaborate exclusively with reputable entities that emphasize responsible gaming,” noted a spokesperson from the economy ministry.

The Pre-Ban Popularity of Sports Betting

Before the imposition of the ban, sports betting was a widely embraced leisure activity in Albania, with three licensed entities operating over 4,200 sports bet cafes nationwide.

Legal sports betting saw Albanians spending approximately 150 million euros annually. However, the inclusion of illicit bets elevates this figure to an astonishing 700 million euros, highlighting the black market’s extensive influence and the critical need for effective regulation.

As Albania embarks on this regulatory transition, there is an optimistic outlook that the reintroduction of online sports betting under stringent oversight will not only mitigate illegal betting activities but also establish a secure and transparent platform for enthusiasts. This legislative change is expected to reshape the Albanian online sports betting scene, offering a regulated avenue for engagement while addressing the challenges posed by the black market.

Our Comment on Albania’s Legislative Change

Albania’s decision to lift the online sports betting ban and introduce a regulated framework marks a strategic move to tackle the challenges posed by unregulated gambling activities. By adopting a selective licensing approach, the government demonstrates its commitment to responsible gambling practices and the eradication of the black market.

This legislative change is poised to redefine the sports betting landscape in Albania, fostering a safer and more regulated environment for betting enthusiasts and contributing to the national economy through legitimate channels.