The parliament passed the law that also bans online gaming and other forms of gambling from 2019.

Albania.- The Albanian parliament passed a law on Thursday that bans sports betting and other forms of gambling starting in 2019, in an attempt to decrease match-fixing in sports competitions and tackle addiction.

The legislation passed with 75 votes in favour from members of the Socialist Party, which is the same one as Prime Minister Edi Rama’s. The legal piece will make all slot machine parlours, betting shops and other forms of sports betting including online sites close before the start of 2019.

Despite the ban that seems to be applied to every type of gambling in the country, the bill allows gambling at casinos in large hotels and televised bingo game and national lottery. It is believed that these haven’t been talked about because they have an ongoing concession.

There are currently 4,300 betting shops in the country (with 2.1 million inhabitants), and sports betting has also grown rapidly in the region and has an annual turnover estimated at €700 million.

Sports betting companies had even offered to stop all types of advertising and close half of their betting shops in order to stop a total ban, but it seems that their efforts had no effect in the decision. Nevertheless, representatives of the companies said that they would fight the prohibition and seek a compensation: “The companies are also evaluating the damages from the unilateral interruption of their licence and mulling legal action to recover the damages,” Artan Shyti, the head of a sports betting industry association, told Reuters.

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