A State-Run Monopoly on Albania’s Sports Betting May Soon Be in Place

The Albanian government is reportedly considering a state-run monopoly on sports betting as part of the country’s measures to curb the negative impact of gambling.

Sports Betting Ban

News of this follows planned moves to ban sports betting in residential areas starting January 2019, reports the Tirana Times. According to the report, the ban won’t apply within tourist areas, 5-star hotels, or non-residential areas. It also won’t apply to TV bingo games, including the National Lottery.

Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and Prime Minister Edi Rama has approved the measure. The former basketball player turned politician said that it would limit the consumption of gambling, providing households with an extra €700m (£616m; $805m).

A report on the proposed monopoly on sports betting noted: “We are considering the possibility of treating sports betting and betting on races as a state monopoly and allowing their operation by specially set up state structures.”

The government has also ordered the enforcement of a complete ban on gambling advertising. Various countries already having a crackdown in this area, amid fears that such adverts could normalise gambling for young children.

Australia, for instance, has banned gambling ads five minutes before the start of play and five minutes after. The aim is to reduce children’s exposure to gambling adverts. Lord Chadlington, a UK Conservative party member, has called for a ban, but wants this extended to an hour before and an hour after sporting events.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Spain may be next to follow Italy’s gambling advertisement ban. It noted that Premiership clubs have become indifferent to “betting advertising and sponsorships”.

Impact for Albania

Last year, the betting industry in Albania generated €130m (£115m; $160m) in revenue and paid around €50m in taxes. It’s possible that the ban on sports betting in residential areas will have an impact on the economy. However, this would be considered a minor negative when it comes to putting more money in the pockets of residents.

Not only that, but the impact of gambling, such as domestic violence and divorce, will be reduced. Data suggests that Albanians gambled €132m (£116m; $152m) last year, representing a 10% increase on the preceding year. Furthermore, the country set a new European record with the installation of 3,900 betting shops, which is one for every 730 local residents.

It’s a step in the right direction for Albania, and is in tandem with other countries taking similar steps. Gambling remains a factor in many parts of people’s day-to-day lives; however, it seems now more than ever governments are taking steps to limit the impact it is having on society.

Gambling in Gaming

The gaming industry is another example, where attitudes are changing regarding in-game gaming. Again, though, one of its focuses is on how children view these games, and how in-game gaming becomes normalised for them.

In September, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a betting brand’s ad from targeting children in an app. William Hill was the brand, and its ad was for Vegas Games. The ad appeared in the New Mario Kart 8 Trick app.

Earlier this month, Google removed 56 gambling apps from its store for breaching Vietnam’s gambling laws. Elsewhere, Dutch and Belgian authorities have taken a firmer stance on in-game loot boxes, which they believe violate gambling laws.

These are just a few examples, but they highlight how authorities are now taking a new approach to gambling in games. It’s a start down a long road, but it paves the way to preventing today’s young children from becoming the problem gamblers of tomorrow.

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