The Albanian Gambling Supervision Authority has opened the competition for the issuance of licenses for casinos.
The competition was launched through a post on the official website of the authority, just a few weeks after the government decided to allow their reopening.
The government decision stipulates that casinos will be allowed to open in a certain area in the city centre, including Skanderbeg Square, the square behind the Palace of Culture, the Youth Park and the area near the Clock, the area where the National Theater once stood, and the area behind it including the Toptani Center.
These are areas of prime real estate and include a number of locations where buildings were recently controversially demolished, or are planned to be demolished.
This area includes two existing hotels, Tirana International and Plazza, as well as the Taiwan Centre.
This area also includes new constructions that are being developed in this area, such as the building behind the Dajti Hotel “Met Building”; Skënderbej tower next to Hotel Tirana; the 25-storey Book Building tower, just behind the Clock Tower and the City Hall building; and all towers planned for construction in the area on and behind the former National Theater.
The government has also approved the criteria for licensing companies to open casinos in these buildings. According to the decision approved by the government, the company must be a joint stock company, with experience in the field of gambling and with a capital of 1, 2 billion ALL.
Following the closure of gambling on January 1, 2019, the only company licensed to open casinos in 5-star hotels is Apex-al, which has changed its name to Adria Entertainment.
The company on May 19, 2020, received a 10-year license allowing it to operate a casino.
The owner of the Apex company, Dajlan Avdia is currently one of the builders of some of the main buildings in the center of Tirana, including the Book Building included in the government area for the opening of the casino.
While gambling was banned almost two years ago, it was not well enforced when it came to online gambing. While Prime Minister Edi Rama said a taskforce would be set up to block access to foreign gambling websites, over half of the 100 biggest gambling sites in the world are still accessible from an Albanian IP address. Exit conducted an excercise whereby it checked thse sites a week after the ban and 18 months later, in fact only 5 sites had been blocked during that time.
Rama previously said that gambling in Albania is a source of “criminal funding”, money laundering and those involved are exponents of organised crime.