(Reuters) – Albania’s parliament passed a law on Thursday banning sports betting and other forms of gambling from the start of 2019 in a bid to tackle addiction among gamblers and match fixing in sport competitions, while also protecting household finances.
The legislation, which passed with 75 votes from members of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party, will force the closure of slot machine parlors, betting shops and all other forms of sports wagering including via online sites.
It will, however, allow gambling at casinos in large hotels and a televised bingo game and national lottery will continue to operate because they have an ongoing concession.
Albania’s sports betting industry has grown rapidly in recent decades and has an annual turnover estimated at 700 million euros, stoking concerns about its impact on low-income families and the integrity of national sport.
Rama, an artist and former basketball player, has led a backlash against the industry.
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