The Albanian government took no real position on the issue of online gambling for many years, but that changed in 2018 after parliament approved a new law to ban most forms of gambling across the country except for brick-and-mortar casinos in certain locations.
The current situation is uncertain as the government has issued various, contradictory statements in recent months that have at times alluded to a government monopoly over online gambling, only to reverse position and seem to indicate there will be no online casinos whatsoever.
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While the government is clearly intent on making life difficult for online casino operators, we have so far seen no indications that there are plans to target players for visiting foreign casino sites. This could change in the future, but for now we believe it is fairly safe to play online from a legal perspective. However, recent developments in Albania show the legal situation can change quickly.
Right now, Albanian online casinos operate in a landscape similar to that of other countries that have restrictive gambling laws. Online gambling is under attack, but it seems authorities’ attention is directed to the operators of casino sites rather than customers.
The best Albanian casino sites today are all located in other countries where the legal status of online gambling is much clearer. Many of the world’s major online gaming brands still accept Albanian customers and are safe places to play. Although these casino sites are not licensed in Albania, they do hold licenses from other reputable jurisdictions that ensure fair games and financial stability.
Most international casino sites are also well-equipped to accept Albanian Lek deposits. In most cases, you will initiate your deposit in Lek and the casino will convert it to some other currency such as US dollars, Euros or British pounds. When you cash out, the casino will convert your winnings back into Lek at the current exchange rate.
And on the topic of money, you should have a few options as far as actually making deposits to fund your account. Neteller offers limited service in Albania, but most Albanian casino sites also accept credit cards, Skrill, bank transfers and other methods. You can visit the cashier’s section of your casino to see which transfer methods they accept.
The State of Gambling in Albania
Gambling occupies a somewhat awkward position in Albania. In some respects, Albania is not the most gambling-friendly nation in the world with strict laws that are in the process of limiting the gambling landscape even further over coming years.
However, the Albanian people do have a reputation as prolific gamblers. Many gaming machines dot the landscape inside minor “casinos” and most of the world’s online casinos are more than happy to accept Albanian customers.
Despite the strict gambling laws, the people here have been estimated to spend as much as €700 million per year gambling over the internet. That is a staggering amount of money for a country of fewer than 3 million people.
The gambling laws of Albania at one point allowed an established brick-and-mortar industry to thrive with smaller betting shops and gambling parlors scattered across the country in large numbers in addition to full-fledged casinos. Changes to the law in 2018 drastically reduced the availability of gambling in the real world and completely outlawed sports betting.
The Albanian government is protective of the limited forms of gambling that are legal, but until recently has done little to combat online gambling services offered by foreign operators. In 2013, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced plans to implement legislation that would force internet service providers to block access to foreign gambling websites.
Authorities took action against illegal gambling in the real world during a two-year operation code-named “End of Insanity” that saw raids and inspections on more than 6500 informal gambling activities. The operation, which ran from 2013 to 2015, resulted in the closure of more than 1500 unauthorized gambling operations and the confiscation of 1,149 gaming machines.
More recently, a gambling law approved by parliament in 2018 introduced significant changes to the gambling landscape. The new Albanian gambling law has outlawed in-person and online sports betting, online casinos and most real-world casinos. The government is still mulling over introducing an online gambling and sports betting monopoly provider, but information on that front is still limited.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.