Albania: Stakeholders Urge Government To Reestablish Regulated Sports Betting

Albania: Stakeholders Urge Government To Reestablish Regulated Sports Betting

A coalition of Albanian sports stakeholders has petitioned the government for the reintroduction of regulated and supervised sports betting in the country through a letter, arguing it can bring “much-needed” revenue to the state. The petition was signed by several sports federations and the Olympic Committee, and asks for the money from betting to be used to support athletes in the country.

“We are not proposing to open the entire range of gambling, including electronic casinos or bingo halls,” the proposal reads, as reported by Exit News. “Our proposal includes total fiscal transparency, league-regulated online sports betting.”

The stakeholders also explained that betting should be allowed via certified operators, including local companies and international brands. They also suggested the establishment of age and maximum bet limits to reduce risks.

In the letter, the coalition pointed out that the regulation of sports betting by law is “a practice followed by many Western countries,” in which income from sports betting is used for the development of sports, their infrastructure, “as well as to support the youth”.

Gambling was banned in Albania in January 2019, which saw the closure of thousands of betting shops around the country. Online gambling and casinos were also barred from operating, except for a handful of exempt ones that were issued special permits.

The signatories stated that the decision to close betting shops “was correct,” as there were too many establishments across the country. However, they said that sports betting continues informally, and the proceeds end up financing crime.

Fidel Ylli, head of the Olympic Committee, said during a speech at the Prime Minister’s Office that it is time to bring companies “out of the darkness,” according to the cited source.

“It was good that they were closed, I was in the parliament and I voted. They were like mushrooms in the rain. Prime Minister, the whole world has betting companies. Yes, we are so rich that we leave this money on the street,” he said, stating that money could be used to fund a new Olympic center.

Since the gambling ban came into force, local media has reported a steady stream of busts of illegal betting and gambling dens, with many others going under the radar. Furthermore, in terms of online gambling, although the government was supposed to block gambling sites, many of the big names are available with no issues or obstacles.