Albania’s Ministry of Finance and Economy has published a draft law to amend gambling regulations and allow for online sports betting.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, who banned sports betting in 2018, recently admitted to local media that the country had failed to stop people from betting on unlicensed sites.
“We, as experience shows, have not been able to stop it, just like other countries have not done it. Instead of remaining an informal activity where dirty money circulates, it should be an activity where large international companies will enter and there will be guarantees for the players. According to the law, all revenues will go to sports and technology,” Rama said.
The law would see the creation of a special fund for sports, culture, innovation and technology to which online sports-betting operators will be required to dedicate 15 percent of their gross gaming revenue.
Casinos in five-star hotels would have to contribute 0.4 percent of annual turnover to the same fund, while the National Lottery operator must pay 5.4 percent of its annual turnover.
The proposal primarily relates to the opening up of the online betting market, as well as some changes to bingo and lottery rules.
Football and other sports events on TV after 10pm will be allowed to show sports-betting adverts.
National Lottery and televised bingo adverts can be shown on TV between 8pm and 8am.
All forms of permitted advertising must include a warning that gambling is addictive.
The Gambling Supervisory Authority's (AMLF) data shows the number of points of sale for sports betting prior to the ban in 2018 was 4,214, with the industry employing 6,700 people.
The regulator carried out a total of 1,421 enforcement checks from the start of the ban to the end of 2022, which resulted in 135 fines for companies and individuals who operated illegally in the gambling market.
AMLF also reported 4,035 illegal betting addresses to authorities with the aim of having them closed down.
A public consultation on the proposed changes was opened by the Ministry of Finance and Economy on March 4 and closed on April 5.
Post-consultation draft laws in Albania usually head for discussion by the Council of Ministers before being introduced in parliament.
At the start of 2023, finance minister Delina Ibrahimaj predicted that Albania would approve a draft sports-betting law within the first three months of 2023.
Last year, Rama received a petition signed by several local sports federations and the Olympic Committee calling for the return of sports betting, which estimated that the government misses out on “€17m in tax revenues each year”, according to the letter.