The Balkans have been a hotbed of activity when it comes to iGaming regulation in recent years. With SiGMA CIS & Balkans on the horizon, it might be apt to first go through the current state of these regulations, opening up a window into the possible future of the industry in this region as a whole.
Without further ado, here’s SiGMA’s regulatory rundown on iGaming in the Balkans.
The state first legalised brick-and-mortar gambling as a whole in 2006 with its digital counterpart entering the good graces of regulators in 2011 with these entities falling under the purview of a specialised regulatory body operating under the Ministry of Finance itself. An online gambling permit needs to first be acquired through a land-based betting organisation with the idiosyncrasies of its licence depending on the kind of gambling - lottery, wagering, slot machines etc. This being said, the explosive growth of the iGaming sector has meant that most land-based casinos have an online component.
This regulatory ease has catalysed the ever-growing market of gamblers in the state with almost 40 percent of Montenegrins at least occasionally gambling or engaging in sports betting. The most popular games seem to be European and American versions of roulette, baccarat, blackjack, poker and punto banco. In terms of sports betting, most Montenegrins seem to go for football, water polo, volleyball, basketball and handball.
Croatia opened the floodgates to all types of betting and gabling in 2014. As in Montenegro and Bosnia, the online aspect was normally folded into an existing land-based casino with a permit being provided by the municipal Ministry of Finance. With internet betting gaining heavy ground and possibly eventually eclipsing land-based casinos, the industry is seeing heavy growth in the state.
The Croatian people are mainly enamoured with blackjack, roulette, baccarat and online gaming with them carrying on the Balkan sports-betting tradition of betting on football and tennis. Interestingly enough, hybrid betting is more popular here than in the rest of the Balkans so providers should act accordingly.
With gambling entering legislation around 2006, plus a hefty update and more prolific guidelines in 2013, the state’s industry is jointly regulated by the Games of Chance Administration (GCA) and the Serbian Ministry of Finance and Economy. The latter is the official provider of licences.
The protocol is quite straightforward with candidates needing an enlisted sum of €250,000, a €300,000 bank store, and an everyday store of €10,000. In terms of digital content, the cost of an online permit is around €2,500 per month.
While regular casinos are quite in vogue, the Serbian people tend to lean more towards sports-betting with football and basketball being regional favourites.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
While not the largest state in the Balkans, Bosnia-Herzegovina has Europe’s largest number of gambling outlets per individual with the state being a regional leader in terms of betting popularity. This nation’s industry is jurisdictionally split into three separate areas each with their own guidelines and requirements.
With the Republika Srpska being the main regulator, the region follows the rest of the Balkans in terms of land-based casinos being allowed to have an online component. This being said, the Brčko locale precludes web-based betting.
The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are also extremely interested in sports-betting but tend to lean more towards micro-betting. Football tends to be the main pillar of the industry with basketball, tennis, golf, rugby and the Grand Prix also being powerful sectors.
Roughly 70.5 per cent of Bosniaks have played in a club at least once in their lives, 27 per cent of those reviewed played all the more habitually over a more exhausted period, and 10 per cent play week after week.
The nation of Slovenia is less ardent about the industry as a whole, at least when compared to the rest of the region. Sports-betting and lotteries are regulated with digital casinos again being attached to land-based operations. This being said, the state has seen an interest in updating its regulation beyond what was instituted in 2013 and 2016. The Slovenian Ministry of Finance is given the responsibility of providing licences.
Interest in online gambling legislation appears sporadically and the state remains of high interest for international operators due to the quality and quantity of internet gambling traffic. Slovenian gamblers regularly wager on football, hockey and online gaming.
North Macedonia opened up the market for gambling in 2011. This being said, the sector as a whole operates under a state monopoly with the National Video Lottery of Macedonia having a controlling stake.
With an energetic client base and a developing economy, the iGaming ecosystem in the region has been steadily growing with some of the most well-known games such as Age of the Gods, Jungle Trouble, Starburst, Twin Spin, Gonzo's Quest and more being popular among the Macedonian audience. With an eye towards the digital, the industry seems to be gaining ground in the region.
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