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Albania Gambling

Albanian Gambling Laws

Despite being 70% Muslim, the Albanian gambling laws make it legal for casino gambling, sports betting and the lottery. The Muslims of Albania seem to be Europeanized, as Albania strives towards inclusion in NATO and the European Union. Albania is a strong ally of the United States, dating back to the Kosovo War in 1998, when nearly half a million Kosovars fled as refugees to Albania.

Sports betting and lottery games have been legal since 1991, when Albania began to remove Communist restrictions. The Communist Party won an election in the fall of that year, but widespread strikes and protests against the government led to a March 1992 election. This election brought the first non-communist administration in 47 years.

Since that time, Albanian politics have become an interesting mixture of socialist policies, moderate ex-Army generals and Muslim ideals. The current president is Sali Berisha, a two-time president of the country and an important transitional figure in post-Communist Albania.

Gambling laws in Albania have been evolving for nearly 20 years, but the Albanians seem intent on conforming to the standard European Union approach to gaming laws.

Regency Casino Tirana

Regency Casino Tirana (Tirana) - Regency Casino in Tirana, Albania is the first of its kind. The casino offers 240 gaming machines and 21 casion gaming tables. This is located on a gaming floor with over 18,000 square feet. This Hyatt Regency property opened in October, 2005. The website contact information for Regency Casino Tirana is www.regencycasino.al.

Casinos in Albania

So far, the Regency Casino is the only one like it in Albania. But the Albanian government plans on issuing five gambling permits over the next several years in Albania. The current going rate for a license is $10 for a 15 year lease.

The first recipient of a casino license was Hyatt Regency & Tourism Hellas. Others who displayed interest in obtaining a license were Club Hotel Loutraki out of Greece, U.S. Royal Palace out of Nevada and Rozafa, an Albanian firm.

The new casinos would be located in four other coastal cities of Albania: Saranda, Vlora, Durrės and Velipojė. All four of these cities are located along the Adriatic and Ionian coastlines, which are known for their idyllic beauties. Cities like Durres and Velipoje could become seaside resort cities.

It's uncertain whether any of the above losing gambling interests will pursue an Albanian license in the future. Apparently, Club Hotel Loutraki complained about the bidding process vis a vis Hyatt Regency. The Loutraki firm might opt out of the next bidding process, or their complaints could hurt their chances of collecting a license from Albanian officials.

Meanwhile, Hyatt Regency threatened to close down its casino operations in Albania just two months after opening. In December of 2005, Albanian officials said they were going to quadruple the tax on slot machine betting. The Hyatt threatened to shut down if this happened, since this would ruin their chances of making a timely profit on their overall $14 million investment.

This dispute seems to have been settled, though the erratic nature of Albanian gambling laws might scare off potential investors in the future. It's hard to say, because one Albanian official thought the $10 million licensing fee would scare off all investors, though at least four companies showed interest in paying the fee.

I would expect the Albanian legislature will learn from its early experiences with international betting firms and probably stay out of the way of future investment opportunities. The political will to lure casino interests to Albania exists, so these casinos likely will be built in due time.

Sports Betting and Lottery in Albania

It is said that both sports betting and lottery games have been popular in Albania since the early 1990's. Like most Europeans, the Albanians love to wager on football matches. They also enjoy the nearby Maecedonian Lottery.

If you search for an official state lottery in Albania, you are likely to find something about the American lottery. This has nothing to do with cash prizes; the winners are given a green card to come to America. Readers should be reminded that Albania is traditionally one of the poorest nations in Europe.

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