Kosovo government takes a hard stance
It has been reported that Kosovo’s government has taken a hard stance against gambling and intends to ban gambling for 10 years. The announcement comes in the wake of the deaths of two casino workers, who were killed earlier in March during armed robberies in separate towns.
Two men murdered
Kosovo’s parliament has stepped in after armed robbers murdered two casino workers in the space of a few days.
One of the victims worked in the gambling center in Suhareka and was murdered last Sunday. A police officer was then arrested as a suspect.
The other victim worked in a center in Lipjan and was murdered on Wednesday.
Following the deaths, customs have raided dozens of gambling shops and found many of them were operating illegally. Kosovo police confiscated more than 100 slot machines and also shut all gambling facilities pending passage of the new law. Most of the 470 gambling venues have now been boarded up.
The latest news shows that the Kosovan government has adopted a draft bill to ban gambling across the country and has sent it to the parliament for approval.
Prime minister Ramush Haradinaj said during a government session on Tuesday that only a state-controlled lottery will be able to operate, and that the measure was aimed at “strengthening public security.” The cabinet voted to back the proposed 10-year ban.
Prime minister supports new law
In a statement after the verdict, Haradinaj said he supported the clampdown. “In the face of this situation, we will not allow these venues to be areas of crime that claim people’s lives,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook on Friday.
“The government and security mechanisms are already mobilized to react and prevent further degradation of the situation,” he added.
The speaker of the parliament, Kadri Veseli, stated that the authorities “will not allow Kosovo to be the center of organized crime and illegal activities.”
Gambling in Kosovo has grown rapidly over the past decade, employing around 4,000 people according to the Gambling Association of Kosovo.
The government takes in €20m (£17m) annually through taxes on gambling.
Not the first to ban all gambling
Following a vote from MPs in October 2017, neighboring country Albania banned all gambling, including online sites, casinos and betting shops, in January. The government ordered them to be relocated to outskirts to prevent the spread of gambling, which they believe spreads crime and addiction.
Turkey banned most forms of gambling back in the late 1990s.