- November 14, 2023
In the past period of time, as the editor of TC-Gaming, I have never specifically introduced the situation related to the European gambling market and white label iGaming. This time, I decided to delve deeper into this topic, but before I started, I really didn’t know how to give an appropriate title to this analysis article about the betting market. My original intention was to write an article specifically about the gaming market in the Balkans, but the problem is that the Balkans are part of Europe and also belong to Southeast Europe. However, the specific boundaries of Southeast Europe are not very clearly defined, which made me a little troubled by the choice of title. Therefore, after much thought, I have decided to call this article "Baklan Peninsula Gambling White Label European iGaming Market." I hope this article about the gambling markets in these countries in the Balkans will help you gain a deeper understanding of the European gambling market. We will analyze the current status of the gambling market, regulatory policies, and market prospects of these countries and regions in turn. In this analysis, we will pay special attention to the development of the iGaming industry and its place in the overall gambling market.
Overview of the Balkans
The Balkans region of Southeastern Europe is a dynamic and growing economy and gaming market. Although the market share of the iGaming industry in this region has just begun to emerge, it has already shown strong vitality and can be said to be in the golden period of its prosperity and development. Although the laws and regulations in the countries in these regions are not all friendly to the iGaming industry, I believe that through my in-depth analysis of the gambling market in the Balkans, you will definitely be able to have a strong interest in the gambling industry in Europe.
In most countries in the Balkans, there are already corresponding gambling regulatory regulations, or relevant gambling monitoring agencies and regulations are being established. These countries are more or less in the process of changing their attitudes towards the gambling industry. The gambling industry, in some cases, can stimulate economic growth, especially in countries with smaller geographical areas. This growth effect is particularly significant. In the Balkans, larger gambling markets include Greece, Serbia and Romania. However, compared to these large countries, smaller but dynamic countries such as Bulgaria or Bosnia and Herzegovina may become a more ideal development platform for iGaming operators.
Albanian Gambling Market
First, let’s take a closer look at the Albanian betting market. Albania is a country located in the Balkans whose gambling market experienced major changes at the end of 2018. At that time, the Albanian government decided to completely ban iGaming and land-based casinos, which was a strong and decisive move. This ban was introduced to solve two major problems: one is the gambling addiction problem among the Albanian people, and the other is the problem of match-fixing in professional sports. These two issues have caused great controversy in Albanian society, and the government hopes to solve these problems through the ban.
However, this ban failed to effectively curb the development of the gambling industry and instead produced some unexpected effects. In order to continue operating, many gambling companies chose to move underground, which made it impossible for the Albanian government to effectively supervise them, ensure the fairness and justice of gambling activities, and obtain tax revenue from them. Even with the ban, iGaming continues to develop in Albania and has penetrated into people's daily lives.
Albania is a small country, and many surrounding countries have gambling industries, which has greatly affected the gambling market in Albania. The Albanian government has not spent a lot of resources and energy to block online gambling. This is because there are elements of gambling in Albanian folk customs and traditions. The disappearance of land-based casinos has forced gambling enthusiasts to turn to iGaming, which is also caused by the lack of local land-based casino options.
Although the Albanian government began to block some foreign gambling websites with the implementation of the ban, due to the large number of gambling websites, it is difficult for the government to block all websites. Additionally, bettors have found ways to easily bypass network firewalls by using VPNs, IPmask, or using the TOR browser to continue gambling. The government's threats of prosecution and fines are just lip service to them.
Slovenian Gambling Market
Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe, but its beautiful natural scenery and long history are the embodiment of its feelings as a big country. Slovenian is the official language and belongs to the South Slavic language family. Slovenia is also a country where gambling is legal. Gambling operators in this country are regulated under the Gambling Act 1995. According to the law, only gambling operators who already hold a physical casino license can legally conduct iGaming operations.
The gambling industry occupies an important position in Slovenia's economic life. Lottery and gambling in Slovenia are governed by state monopolies: Loterija Slovenije operates the state lottery, while Športna Loterija has exclusive rights to horse racing and sports betting. Within Slovenia, seven of the ten licenses that have been issued are held by the HIT Group, the majority of which are owned by public entity casinos. The authorities require that to obtain one of the licenses (for example, sports and lotteries, or slot machines are separate licenses), gambling operators need at least EUR416,000 in capital, with a bank guarantee of 50% of this amount. In Slovenia, gambling is not only an entertainment activity but also an important economic activity. The country has created a large number of employment opportunities through the gambling industry, while also making an important contribution to the country's economic development.
Slovenia's total gaming revenue dropped significantly in 2020 due to the pandemic; however, this figure had been growing steadily in previous years. In 2019, the industry's GGR peaked at EUR322.2 million; approximately half of this (EUR158.8 million) came from casinos, with the rest coming from arcades, betting operations, and the state lottery.
Sources suggest that revenue from Slovenia’s iGaming market is expected to reach EUR168.5 million by 2023. The online sports betting market has an estimated market size of EUR62.42 million this year. Revenue is expected to grow at an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 8.28%, with the market size expected to reach EUR231.6 million by 2027.
It can be said that Slovenia is a small European country full of vitality and potential, and the same is true for its gambling market.
Croatian Gambling Market
Croatia is a country located in the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, bordering Serbia to the east, Hungary to the north, and Italy across the Adriatic Sea to the west. The official language of this country is Croatian, which belongs to the South Slavic language family.
In 2013, shortly after Croatia became a member of the European Union, it changed its gambling regulations. This reform officially came into effect on January 1, 2015, and strictly regulated the gaming industry. The national lottery is managed by Harvatska Lutrija and is under the monopoly of the Croatian state. At the same time, licenses to iGaming services also include licenses for physical casinos.
Compared with the size of the local market in Croatia (population is about 4 million), the license fee is nearly EUR400,000 per year, which is undoubtedly quite high. The gaming license is valid for 15 years.
In addition, the gambling tax is 5% of the turnover of lottery and gaming businesses, rising to 15% for casino-type games (such as poker), and 25% for slot machines. This high tax has also caused strong controversy among many gambling operators.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Gambling Market
Bosnia and Herzegovina is an extremely diverse country, and its ethnic makeup is equally diverse. More than 3.8 million Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats live in this country's vast territory. The country's gambling industry is mainly concentrated in land-based casinos, but iGaming is also gradually developing.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the gaming industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to cope with this impact, most bookmakers have moved their betting to online betting. Even government authorities say they have gone digital and the gaming industry has moved online. However, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a lack of gambling laws that apply to the entire country. The only anti-money laundering and data protection laws are enforced at the federal level.
Both land-based casinos and lotteries are subject to state monopoly. In Republika Srpska* (note it is an autonomous republic within Bosnia and Herzegovina)*, the government allows authorized iGaming operators to provide casino and iGaming services, while in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, only iGaming is allowed (excluding sports that are expressly prohibited). Additionally, iGaming licenses must be tied to land-based casino operators. Online licenses cost approximately USD55,709.
Serbian Gambling Market
The iGaming market is becoming increasingly popular around the world, especially in some European countries, which have a positive attitude towards the development of the iGaming market. Among them, Serbia is a market that cannot be ignored. Serbia, a country of nearly 7 million people, has maintained a steady pace in the development of its gambling market.
In 2019, driven by its population base, the total revenue of Serbian gambling operators achieved significant growth, reaching EUR785 million, a year-on-year increase of 71%, showing the huge potential of the iGaming market.
The Serbian National Lottery has exclusive rights to cover a wide range of lottery games, including Lotto, Instant Lottery, Bingo, and Keno. In addition, "classic betting games" are included, such as sports prediction games, a very special type of sports betting game that was codified during the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The gameplay of this game involves predicting the outcome of a scheduled list of matches, similar to Totocalcio in Italy or La Quinela in Spain.
In Serbia, it can obtain a local license to provide iGaming and betting services (excluding sports predictions as mentioned above) within the territory of Serbia in accordance with the 2020 regulations harmonizing the country’s regulations with EU legislation.
Companies applying for a gambling license in Serbia need to meet certain conditions: a minimum share capital of EUR250,000, a bank deposit or guarantee of EUR300,000, and a daily risk cash deposit of EUR10,000. A land-based casino license costs EUR500,000 per year, while an iGaming license costs EUR2,500 per month. It is worth noting that the license is valid for 10 years and there is no limit on the number of iGaming licenses – unlike the licenses for land-based casinos, which are capped at 10.
The GGR tax rate for online sports betting is 15% while iGaming only pays 10%. In addition, all operators are required to pay a minimum monthly fee of EUR10,000. Although tax rates and fees vary, there is one general rule for all iGaming and offline casinos: the company must be registered in Serbia or any country in the European Economic Area (EEA). This can be regarded as a regulation to protect companies in the country and the European Economic Area, but it also provides a more flexible platform for gambling companies.
Kosovo Gambling Market
Kosovo, a small country in the southeastern corner of Europe, has two official languages: Albanian and Serbian. The population of this place is about 1.8 million people, mainly Albanians, Serbs, and other small groups. Most people here believe in Islam, but of course, some people are Christians.
Kosovo's economic situation is relatively difficult. The per capita income is only about USD5,305, and the economy is not large. However, this does not affect the country's own economic characteristics. Agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries are the main economic pillars here and contribute to the country's economic growth.
In recent years, Kosovo has been trying to attract foreign investment and promote economic diversification to enhance its economic strength. However, the country only started regulating its gambling industry in 2019. Unfortunately, due to two serious murders within a week, the government decided to implement a total ban for 10 years.
However, while the domestic gambling industry is shut down, there are no restrictions on locals playing games on overseas iGaming platforms. This also implies that the government basically turns a blind eye to this kind of behavior. Moreover, Kosovo has not implemented an Internet blockade on overseas iGaming platforms, which further shows the government’s tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Albanian Gambling Market
Albania, a land located in southeastern Europe, is known for its rich and diverse religious background and is a multi-religious country. Its main religions include Islam and Christianity, mainly Orthodox and Catholic, but there are also some people who practice other religious beliefs. Albania's population is approximately 2.8 million, a smaller population than many European countries.
Albanian is the country's official language, but there are other languages spoken by minority groups in this diverse society. Although Albania is a middle-income country with a per capita GPD of USD6.492, its economy is gradually growing and developing rapidly. Agriculture, manufacturing, services, and tourism make up the country's economic dominance. In recent years, Albania has been attracting foreign investment and working hard to improve its infrastructure to further enhance its economic strength.
At the end of 2018, Albania voted unanimously to ban all forms of gambling, whether it is offline physical casinos or iGaming platforms. However, despite this ban, online gambling remains popular in Albania. This is due to the lack of local land-based casinos, so for those who want to play gambling games, the only option is iGaming. As the number of gambling users increased, the authorities began to block overseas gambling platform websites, but the effect was minimal because people could easily bypass these blocks by using technical means such as VPN, IPmask, or TOR browser. Therefore, players who gamble on overseas iGaming platforms are not severely restricted by regulations.
North Macedonia Gambling Market
North Macedonia is a multi-religious country whose main beliefs are Orthodox Christianity and Islam, with a population of about 2.1 million. The official language is North Macedonian, but other ethnic languages such as Albanian are also quite common. Their economy relies mainly on services, manufacturing, and agriculture. One interesting thing is that they have legalized iGaming since 2014. However, it will not be until 2020 that all forms of iGaming, except online lotteries, are fully legalized.
The government holds a majority stake in the National Video Lottery of the Republic of Macedonia, the first and only license issued in 2014. Casinos Austria holds a 49% stake, they invested EUR6 million and provided technical support.
Starting from 2020, iGaming is no longer the exclusive business of the government. Private iGaming operators can also carry out iGaming business, but online lottery is still the exclusive business of the government.
However, in order to mitigate the impact of the global epidemic, Macedonia has fully legalized iGaming. This means that as long as you obtain a Macedonian gambling license, you can open an iGaming platform. Also, don’t confuse Macedonia and North Macedonia, they are two completely different places.
Greek Gambling Market
Greece, a country located on the Balkan Peninsula, has a population so large that it ranks as the second most populous country in the world. The population in 2022 is estimated to be about 10.5 million people. With a bulging wallet, Greece has a total revenue of more than EUR2 billion, making it one of the richest markets in the Balkans. Not only for its economic prowess, Greece is respected for its impact on global culture. As one of the birthplaces of Western civilization, it is influential in literature, philosophy, art, and politics. The historical and cultural heritage of ancient Greece is everywhere, such as world-renowned historical sites such as the Acropolis of Athens and the ruins of Olympia. Greek is the country's official language, and Orthodox Christianity is the main religion. Service industry, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture are Greece's main economic sources, of which tourism is a very important part.
In Greece, the gambling industry is legal, and there are some gambling companies that offer various gambling services, such as sports betting, casino games, and iGaming. There have been some changes to gambling regulations in Greece in recent years, particularly regarding iGaming.
In 2011, Greece enacted a law on iGaming, which was then revised in 2019 to introduce a formal operating licensing process for casino and sports betting operators. These licenses are issued by the Greek Gambling Commission and are valid for 7 years with no limit on the number. The annual fee for iGaming operators is EUR3 million and for online casinos is EUR2 million. The tax rate is 35% of the operator's GGR, which is considered high in the gaming market. In addition, a bank guarantee of EUR100,000 is required, with a minimum capital of EUR200,000.
In the Greek gambling market, OPAP is the big player. This is a company founded in 1958 and is a lottery operator in Greece. OPAP has exclusive rights to operate various online and offline games, including lotteries, scratch cards, and horse racing. OPAP’s monopoly on lotteries will last until 2030, its monopoly on scratch cards until 2026, and its monopoly on horse racing until 2036. This all illustrates OPAP’s position in the Greek gambling market.
Cyprus Gambling Market
The economy of Cyprus, a small island country located in the eastern Mediterranean, relies on the service industry, manufacturing, tourism, and shipping to make money. Tourism, as an important sector of the economy, attracts a large number of tourists every year to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and rich cultural heritage. As of 2022, the population here is approximately 1.2 million, and the per capita GDP has reached USD31,551. Compared with neighboring countries, the living standard is quite high.
The official languages of Cyprus are Greek, Turkish, and English, which reflects the multiculturalism here. When it comes to religion, the dominant faiths here are Orthodox Christianity and Islam, which have a profound impact on cultural and social life. Cyprus also has a legal gambling industry, including various casinos and other gambling facilities, which have played an important role in promoting the economic development of Cyprus and contributed significantly to domestic GDP.
Gambling in Cyprus is now regulated under the Gambling Act 2019, the latest version of a comprehensive legislative framework introduced in 2012. According to this law, land-based casinos (which were legalized in 2015) can continue to operate. At the same time, iGaming is also allowed, but only betting services can be provided. These services include betting on sporting events, e-sports, and non-sporting events; the only thing you cannot bet on is horse racing, as the Nicosia Jockey Club in Cyprus owns the patent for horse racing.
Cyprus iGaming company licenses are issued by the National Gambling Authority and are generally valid for one or two years. The cost of a license is EUR30,000 or EUR45,000, depending on the validity period of the license. Furthermore, gaming operators must provide a bank guarantee of EUR550,000 and pay a tax equal to 13% of their gross income (including 10% tax and 3% management fee).
Generally speaking, Cyprus’ gaming industry has developed quite well in recent years, with gross gaming revenue (GGR) of nearly 960 million euros in 2022, an increase of 22% over last year. Specifically, last year's GGR reached EUR959,557,906, while it will be EUR783,494,421 in 2021. This trend indicates a bright future for the development of the Cyprus gaming industry.
Bulgarian Gambling Market
Bulgaria, a country located in southeastern Europe, has a rich and long history and cultural tradition. The country's culture is deeply influenced by diverse cultures such as Greece, Rome, and Ottoman Turkey, giving it a unique cultural landscape. In this small country, there are about 7 million people living in the country, who believe in Orthodox Christianity as their main faith. In terms of language, Bulgarian is the official language of the country. Economically, the service industry, industry, and agriculture are the three pillar industries of Bulgaria. Bulgaria is also a member of the European Union, which gives it an important international position.
In Bulgaria, the gambling industry is a legal and strictly regulated industry, including casinos, gambling websites, and other gambling facilities operating under the protection and supervision of the law. This industry not only provides entertainment venues for players but also provides an important source of revenue for the government. The government has strictly regulated the gambling industry and obtained a large amount of tax revenue from it.
It is estimated that the size of the gambling market in Bulgaria will exceed the 2 billion euro mark. Although the share dominated by iGaming is a small proportion of the entire market, its growth rate is very alarming. Licensed operators can offer all forms of online gambling except live lotteries and draws. Only classic lottery games (excluding keno and bingo) are state monopolies.
The gambling industry in Bulgaria is currently regulated by the Gambling Law of 2012 and is regulated by the State Tax Service. This body, which replaced the previous National Gambling Commission in August 2020, immediately began work on the development of updated secondary regulations. These new regulations are currently being implemented and have a profound impact on existing iGaming operators and land-based casinos.
In Bulgaria, there is no upper limit on the number of gambling licenses and the fees vary depending on the type of license, from a minimum of EUR55,000 to more than EUR70,000. The license is usually valid for five years, depending on the gaming operator’s initial investment in the country. For example, for online casinos, the initial investment needs to be EUR300,000, and for sports betting, EUR500,000. All operators also need to provide a guarantee of EUR500,000.
In terms of tax, operators need to pay a standard tax rate of 15%. The license maintenance fee is calculated based on 20% of GGR.
Romanian Gambling Market
Romania, a country full of various cultures, rich history, and beautiful scenery, has a rich and diverse market economic system. As a member of the European Union, Romania has a strong economic foundation in agriculture, industry, services, and technological innovation. Major economic forces include information technology, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. Overall, the employment situation in Romania is good, especially in urban areas. Among them, the service industry, information technology, and manufacturing are the fields that provide the most job opportunities.
Romania is the most populous country in the region, with over 19 million people. The per capita GDP is USD14,858. In 2019, Romania’s iGaming industry revenue reached EUR70.2 million. While this figure may not seem high, in fact, it has grown by 416% since 2015, while during the same period, the gaming industry’s market share increased by only 5.5%, from 9.5% to 15%.
The gambling industry in Romania is regulated by the Gambling Law of 2009 and the Gambling Regulations of 2016. For iGaming services, the National Gambling Office provides licenses to operators of casinos, sports betting, raffles, and bingo games. In addition, the lottery is operated by Loteria Romana, a state monopoly.
The competent authority responsible for regulating and regulating the gambling industry is the National Gambling Office (ONJN). ONJN is responsible for issuing various types of gambling licenses, including sports betting, online casinos, and lotteries, with no limit on the number. The cost of these licenses is EUR2,500. Operators also need to pay an annual management fee of 13,500 euros, which will range from EUR6,000 to EUR120,000 depending on the operator's turnover. In addition, the operator is required to provide a guarantee of EUR100,000. The tax is 16% of GGR or EUR100,000 per year, whichever is higher, plus a monthly tax of 2% of turnover.
Moldova Gambling Market
At the beginning of 2023, Moldova's population was estimated to be around 2.6 million. This country is located in Eastern Europe, surrounded by Ukraine and Romania. Moldova is a low-income country with an economy primarily based on agriculture. Planting, breeding, and food processing are the backbone of the economy. The official language of Moldova is Romanian, but Russian is also spoken.
The gambling market in Moldova is relatively small and regulated by the government. Legal gambling includes lotteries and some gambling establishments, but the overall scale is relatively limited.
iGaming in Moldova is a state monopoly. Loteria Nationala Moldovan Joint Stock Company controls the operation of all online casinos in the country. Gambling operators are regulated by the Ministry of Finance and the Licensing Chamber of Commerce. The regulatory authority for the gaming industry in Moldova is the Moldovan State Lottery Company. This statutory fund is under the Ministry of Finance. The legality of activities in establishments offering gambling entertainment is regulated by the Ministry of Tax Services and the Interior.
In Moldova, any advertising of gambling establishments and services is prohibited (note: gambling advertisements), and the total income tax rate for legal entities registered in Moldova is 12%.
In today's globalized world, the gaming industry has developed into a transnational and cross-regional industry. However, there are still great differences in laws and regulations between countries and regions. Faced with the complicated and contradictory gambling laws and regulations in various regions around the world, it is crucial to choose a suitable gambling market and ensure that your iGaming career has a good start. It's important. This requires us to do sufficient research and preparation when entering new markets. The Balkan Peninsula, as a region with multicultural, multilingual, and multireligious coexistence, is even more so.
Although the gaming market in the Balkans has great potential for development, it also faces many challenges. First of all, due to the differences in national culture, lifestyle, and religious beliefs here, there may be a direct or indirect impact on the gambling business. For example, the aesthetics of local people may affect the design of the gambling platform; the correctness of the local language of the gambling platform may affect the user experience; whether each interface operation conforms to the habits of local people may affect the user's retention rate and activity. Therefore, when choosing a white label iGaming solution, we need to fully consider these factors to reduce or eliminate unstable factors, thereby opening up a new world in the local market.
TC-Gaming is a well-established company that has been in the white label iGaming industry for many years. We have been continuously collecting, organizing, and analyzing gaming industry news and data to better understand market dynamics and user needs. We start from the perspective of operators and consider the perspective of players, striving to meet user needs in product design and services and provide the best experience. We believe that by choosing TC-Gaming, we can work with you to create great results and share the broad prospects of the gaming market.