The government’s controversial decision on the return of online sports betting from January 1, 2023 has not yet become a reality, although in the state budget, a full 2 billion ALL are planned as income from ‘gambling’. The Minister of Finance Delina Ibrahimaj said that the draft is still in the drafting process, as she gave a new deadline of March this year. Faktoje has provided a copy of the draft, according to which, the tax for ‘gambling’ activity will increase by 40% compared to the period when the activity was allowed in Albania.
“It is expected to be submitted to the Parliament within the month of December.” – declared at the beginning of December the Minister of Finance Delina Ibrahimaj, referring to the draft of the various laws on gambling.
Based on this statement, one day after the parliament closed its work for 2022, Faktoje addressed a request for information to the Ministry of Finance, to find out where the draft with changes that should have been submitted to the parliament ‘stuck’.
In the official response, finance admitted that the experts had failed to finalize the changes in the gambling law, but without providing clarifications for the violation of the deadline promised by Minister Ibrahimaj.
“The drafting of the act is in the process of completion.” – written in the response of the Ministry of Finance to Faktoje on December 23.
Minister Delina Ibrahimaj herself was forced to share some clarifications with the public, at the closing conference of 2022, when she said that intensive work has been done, but the submission of the draft to the Assembly would have to wait until the beginning of this year.
“We are in the process of finalization and at the beginning of next year we will start the procedures for approving this law, which will take their time. In my estimation, within the first quarter of 2023, this law is expected to be approved in the parliament.” – underlined Ibrahimaj, thus giving a new deadline for gambling.
Betting is still illegal, but the budget accounts for 2 billion ALL from ‘gambling’
Online betting will open within the first quarter of this year, although the draft has not yet been put out for public consultation. Despite this, finance has calculated the money that will be collected in the budget from the return of online sports betting.
In the 2023 budget report, it is specified that 2 billion ALL will be collected in the state budget from the approval of gambling in law, but without providing details on the type and amount of taxation of this activity.
Faktoje has managed to secure a copy of the draft that is still on the tables of the experts of the Ministry of Finance. The document foresees a 40% increase in the tax for bets, returning to the same amount of taxation that existed before 2018. According to the draft, the taxation of online sports betting will be 25% of the gross income from the game, that is, the difference between the amount that the company collects from the players and the profit that it returns to them. Prior to the closure of betting, the tax for this activity was 15% of the gross income from the game.
“Organizers of the “Online sports betting” category are not taxed according to point 2 of this article, but at the rate of 25% of the gross income from the game. The Council of Ministers determines by decision the amount of income from this tax, which goes to the account of the Ministry responsible for sports, as well as the way of spending it.” – is written in the draft amendments to the law on gambling.
The former head of the Betting Association in Albania, Artan Shyti, sees some ambiguities in this way of taxation and suggests clarifying them before the draft goes out for public consultation.
“It must be specified what is called gross income, on an annual or monthly basis and how it will be calculated. Because six months you can win and another six you can lose and at the end of the tax year you come out with a loss. It is also unclear how much money will go to sports, as it is written that the government decides. They said the reopening of betting would be for sports, so why not all the proceeds go there.” – he emphasizes, adding that the draft as a whole makes gambling licensing more difficult.
“From what I see, the tendency to tighten the granting of licenses for this type of activity is clearly observed. I see two problems with the draft. The first is the amount of 12 million dollars as a guarantee fund and the second is related to the fact that the company must have 3 years of experience from an OECD country. With these restrictions, I fear that people will continue to play as they do now, in black.” – claims Shyti for Faktoje.
On October 25, 2018, the Parliament of Albania passed a law that closed almost the entire gambling industry in the country. But four years later, the government engaged in public hearings for their return online, undoing one of the most sensational and populist laws of the socialist government, which at the time was considered a year-end gift for every Albanian family.
Based on the verifications made and the information collected, we will categorize the statement of Minister Ibrahimaj as untrue.
*In the link below you can find more information on the government’s decision to legalize online sports betting.