How Prime Minister Edi Rama Changed his Tune on Gambling in Albania

Over the last six years, Prime Minister Edi Rama has given confusing comments on the government’s approach to online and offline gambling in Albania.

In January 2019, all forms of gambling were banned in Albania, with the exception of one land-based casino. Now, under two years later, the government has planned to turn the centre of Tirana, including the area where the National Theatre once stood, into a zone that permits casinos.

Exit has compiled Rama’s comments from over the last two years regarding the legality of gambling in the country.

8 October 2018

“Starting from December 31 of this year, all electronic casinos will cease to function. Today’s change includes sports betting, as well as any kind of bet for any so-called track race, with horses, dogs…”

14 October 2018

“Black betting money is being poured into the bins and is creating an online monopoly! Do not get tired in vain, you can not save bets anymore! Both the bets and this online monopoly will die for the New Year.”

18 October, 2018:

“I am sure that this parliamentary group will give […] a long-awaited gift on the occasion of the New Year, the closure of electronic casinos and sports betting from football matches to competitions of all kinds of four-legged betting online. On January 1, there are no more bets, electronic casinos in any residential area.”

19 October 2019:

“On December 31, mothers, wives and daughters will take back their son or husband ill from gambling. On January 1, all street bets will be closed, or online and that said, online today you play with a credit card and every transaction is registered, taxed and you can not play in black. On December 31st there is no more. We will close them all. “

22 October 2018:

“Gambling activity in Albania is largely financed by organized crime. They are sources of criminal funding, they are money laundered through gambling activity and they are exponents of organized crime who hide or are rightly involved in these activities.”

2 January 2019

“New Year with good legs, without gambling…”

Exit found that despite the ban on gambling and the supposed “task force” set up to block access to foreign gambling sites, almost half, including the biggest names in the international industry was still accessible online. In fact, if a task force was set up, it only managed to close around 5 portals since January 2019.

The Opposition has accused Rama of allowing casinos to appease criminals. They questioned who is set to benefit from the new law, why they were closed two years ago, and why the decision on the law was made “in secret” and “at the height of a crisis where Albanians are suffering every day for food.”