Next year’s forecast for the igaming markets of the Balkans

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Gambling was run as a state monopoly in the former Yugoslavia, but obviously, much has changed since then

Here we’ll look into the regulations and trends of online gambling in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia.

Serbia

Gambling has been legal in Serbia since 2006, and full regulation appeared in 2013. The business is controlled by the Games of Chance Administration (GCA) and a department of the Serbian Ministry of Finance and Economy, which issues licenses.

The licensing process is simple — applicants need registered capital of €250,000, a €300,000 bank deposit, and a daily deposit of €10,000. The cost of a license for an online casino is €2,500 per month.

From the point of view of investment attractiveness, potential investors in Serbia should consider launching a betting platform. Casino games are popular, but the Serbs prefer sports betting. Love of sport is rooted in their culture — Serbians are very active, with a high rate of participation in sports. They also follow sports closely, and, as it usually goes, bet on them. Football and basketball are the most popular sports to bet on in Serbia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina has Europe’s highest number of betting shops per person, which is unsurprising, given the high rate of gambling participation. The country is divided into three regions, each with its own regulations and requirements.

The Republika Srpska issues licenses for five years, and has standard licensing requirements: the company must be registered in the country, have a deposit that will cover player winnings, and prove the integrity of the founders. The price of an online casino license is KM 100,000 ($55,709). Land-based licensees in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are permitted to operate online casino games. Online gambling is prohibited in the Brčko district.

Residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina are fans of sports betting, and they prefer to make small bets. Football is the most popular sport here. Basketball, tennis, golf, rugby, and the Grand Prix are also common.

Widespread gambling participation makes the country an interesting investment opportunity. Approximately 70.5% of Bosniaks have played in a casino at least once in their lives, 27% of those surveyed played more frequently over a more expended period, and 10% play weekly.

Montenegro

Gambling in Montenegro was legalized in 2006, and online gambling in 2011. Regulation falls under the responsibility of the Administration for Games of Chance, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Finance.

An online casino license can only be obtained by operators of land-based gambling establishments registered as joint-stock companies or limited liability companies. The requirements and validity period depend on the type — lotteries, casino games, betting, slot machines, etc. Due to consistent demand, most land-based gambling establishments launch online projects.

Virtual gambling sites offer an even greater variety of games than land-based gambling establishments. This is achieved through innovative products from online casino developers. For example, the APIgrator solution from Slotegrator lets you integrate more than 7,000 games from more than 100 licensed industry developers into a gambling site in one click, including slots, live dealer games, poker, virtual sports, card, and casual games.

The gambling audience in Montenegro is promising — almost 40% of Montenegrins periodically play in the casino and bet on sports. Montenegrins especially like European and American versions of roulette and baccarat, blackjack, poker, and punto banco. The list of favorite sports for betting includes football, water polo, volleyball, basketball, and handball.

Croatia

Almost all forms of gambling were regulated in Croatia in 2014. To open an online casino in the country, you need to obtain a local license issued by the Ministry of Finance, as well as operating a land-based casino, as in Montenegro or Bosnia.

Gambling licenses here are valid for 15 years. To purchase one, operators must pay an annual fee of HRK 3,000,000 ($431,648) and have at least HRK 4,000,000 ($575,514) of registered capital throughout the entire period.

Foreign platforms that do not have a local license cannot accept players or payments from Croatia. However, 82% of the population of Croatia — almost 24 million people — use the internet, and there are 106.6 mobile subscriptions per 100 people, providing ample infrastructure for the development of online gambling.

Croatians love to play blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and online slots. Like their neighbors, they bet on football, basketball, and tennis. Mobile gambling is more common here than in neighboring countries, so adaptive web design is an absolute must.

Slovenia

Slovenia has a moderate regulatory regime. Sports betting and lotteries are under the state monopoly, and only those who already operate a land-based gambling establishment can manage an online casino. The country plans to liberalize gambling legislation; the first attempts were made in 2013 and 2016. The obvious conclusion is that Slovenia is serious about opening its market to foreign companies.

The Ministry of Finance is in charge of issuing licenses. The operator must conclude a concession agreement with the country’s government. 

News regarding the development of online gambling in Slovenia appears irregularly, suggesting that the gambling business in the country is very conservative. The latest burst of activity was associated with the desire of some deputies to improve legislation and create a controlled market, so that, for example, users would stop ignoring the betting monopoly and using the services of operators who do not have a license.

Despite the apparently closed nature of the country’s gambling industry, Slovenia is considered attractive in terms of traffic, because there are practically no restrictions on admission to gambling. More than 80% of the population uses the internet, which contributes to the development of the online segment. Slovenian residents willingly play online casinos and bet on football, hockey, and virtual sports.

North Macedonia

Gambling in North Macedonia was legalized in 2011, but the industry is a de facto state monopoly; a controlling stake in the National Video Lottery of Macedonia is held by local authorities, who received the first and only license issued in the country In 2014.

Popular games among the locals are Jackpot Giant, Age of the Gods, Jungle Trouble, Starburst, Twin Spin, Gonzo’s Quest, Aloha Cluster Pays, etc.

Slotegrator, a leading igaming software developer and aggregator, has been expanding its presence in former Yugoslavian markets for almost ten years. Favorable licensing conditions, a growing economy, and an enthusiastic user base are just a few of the reasons to open an online casino in one of these countries.

In addition, in recent years, the countries mentioned above have digitised. This was driven by entrepreneurs’ desire to stabilize business performance, which suffered fluctuations due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors. In the future, any business, including gambling, will likely go online or decide to create an additional online direction.