Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small Southeastern European state located in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. It has one of the most complex systems of government, since it consists of two autonomous administrative units: the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both of these states, virtually all forms of gambling are allowed, including online. The regulating body in the field of offline and online gambling is the Republican Gambling Authority (Republika Gambling Authority), which operates under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Srpska.
In general, the gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina is quite well developed, especially in comparison with many other countries on the Balkan Peninsula. Currently, there are two large land-based casinos legally operating in the country: the Coloseum Club casino in Sarajevo (the capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Grand Casino in Banja Luka (the capital of the Republika Srpska). In addition, the Admiral network of gambling clubs is widespread on the territory of the state, there are two lottery operators (LutrijaBiH – in Sarajevo, and Glory Leisure Banja Luka – in Banja Luka), more than 2,500 bookmakers and poker clubs.
As far as online gambling is concerned, it is legal both in the Republika Srpska and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the latter, in 2013, attempts were made to deny access to online betting sites. However, the ban was lifted due to strong public pressure. But in the Republika Srpska, online gambling is much more loyal. Back in 2011, sports betting company Williams received the first license to operate its Wwin site.
Laws regulating gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina is completely legal and regulated by law. Let us consider the basic principles of gambling industry control using the example of the Republic of Srpska. Here it is regulated by the following regulatory legal acts:
- The Law on Gambling (Law on Gambling on the Ground) dated 07.11.2012;
- Gambling Regulations (Wednesday Gaming Rules) dated 12/31/2013;
- Income Tax Law (Law on Cutting Income) dated 28.06.2015;
- the update of the Law on Income Tax (Amendment of the Law on Cut on Income) dated 25.01.16.
The current gambling legislation regulates:
- the system and conditions for organizing gambling;
- payment for their preparation and conduct;
- taxes on winnings;
- control over the fulfillment of obligations in accordance with the law;
- crimes and punishments in the field of gambling.
The regulations regulate the conditions for issuing permits for the organization of gambling entertainment, the procedure for exercising inspection supervision through the payment of fees and taxes, technical conditions for organizing electronic games, etc.
According to the current legislation, gambling is understood as games, the result of which depends entirely or mainly on a case or an uncertain event. The following types of such games are allowed on the territory of the country:
- lottery – lotteries, express lotteries, instant lotteries, TV Tombola, lotto, TV lotto, classic bingo, keno, sports lottery, sweepstakes, fonto, etc .;
- electronic – electronic bingo, etc .;
- special – casino games (craps, baccarat, blackjack, poker, punto banco, etc.), bets, slot machines and online games.
Competitions are subdivided into:
- classic contests;
- sweepstakes that are organized using telecommunication systems.
Only persons who have reached the age of 18 can take part in any gambling entertainment. Any advertising of gambling establishments and the services they provide on television or radio is prohibited by law.
Regulators of the gambling industry in the Republic of Srpska
Supervision over gambling on the territory of the state is carried out by the Republican Administration for Gambling (Republican Administration for Gambling on Wednesday). This administrative body operates under the authority of the Ministry of Finance of the Republika Srpska. It was created in accordance with the Law on Republican Administration (Law on Republican Administration).
In accordance with the provisions of the Law on Gambling and Article 38 of the aforementioned Law, the Republic of the Government for Gaming on the Ground performs administrative and other professional tasks related to:
- the issuance and cancellation of concessions for gambling, recreational games and games with prizes;
- the establishment and implementation of the spatial, technical and informational requirements necessary for the organization of gambling;
- issuing special tags with consent to organize and conduct gambling in casinos, clubs with slot machines, bookmakers, etc .;
- issuing stickers for marking and registering slot machines, gambling tables, terminals and entertainment machines;
- giving consent to the rules of the games;
- receiving, processing, entering and updating tax returns for payment for activities related to the organization of gambling entertainment;
- the approval of the sale of cards for Tombolo in the preparation of the classic lotto;
- inspection of the premises where gambling is organized;
- analysis of actions that are directly or indirectly related to gambling, business books, reports, information systems, and other documents or information on the basis of which a business organizer can be determined;
- conducting inspections of the organizer;
- ensuring compliance with established rules, laws and other regulations in the field of gambling;
- preparation of draft bylaws;
- making decisions in the process of observation;
- taking into account the tasks, responsibilities and other things in accordance with the legislation and other regulatory legal acts of the Republika Srpska.
Work within the competence of the Office is carried out in the following organizational units:
- department of financial, legal and general affairs;
- department of permission, approval, processing and analysis of tax returns;
- department of inspection supervision.
Conditions for obtaining a license in the gambling jurisdiction of the Republic of Srpska
Organization and conduct of gambling can be carried out by legal entities headquartered in the Republic. The founders or persons in charge of an organization must not have a criminal record, with the exception of traffic offenses, if they meet the conditions prescribed by law.
When granting a concession or license, the following is assessed:
- business, jobs, past financial performance and creditworthiness of the legal entity;
- fulfillment of tax and other obligations by legal entities and their owners;
- the volume of organized gambling in terms of complementing the tourist offer.
To award a concession or license, a legal entity must have a minimum authorized capital in the amount of:
- classic Tombola – minimum 200,000 KM;
- casino games – minimum KM 2,000,000;
- electronic gambling – minimum KM 50,000;
- sweepstakes – at least KM 500,000;
- slot machines – at least 500,000 KM;
- online games – at least KM 1,000,000.
If a legal entity applies for a license to organize several types of gambling, it must have the aggregate amount of the minimum authorized capital specified in the “regular lotto” clause for each license it obtains. A legal entity to which a concession or license has been issued is required to maintain a minimum share capital throughout the entire period of validity of this permit.
One-time payment for obtaining a license:
- classic Tombola – 50,000 KM;
- electronic games in casino games – KM 100,000;
- totalizator – KM 100,000;
- slot machines – 10,000 KM;
- online games – 200,000 KM.
This fee is paid upon receipt of the license and cannot be returned to the organizer if he does not use the license. The license is issued by the director of the Republican Gambling Administration at the request of the organizer. The license is valid for 5 years. After the expiration of the term, its organizer can extend it for another five or 10 years, subject to the requirements established by the Law on Gambling. An application for renewal of a license must be submitted no later than six months before its expiration.
The license must contain:
- company name and location;
- the types of gambling that may be offered;
- the date on which the organizer starts providing its services;
- the length of the license period;
- provisions on other rights and obligations of the organizer;
- the size and type of payment for the license.
The license is subject to revocation if:
- it was issued on the basis of false information;
- the organizer has not started the games within the period specified in the license;
- one of the conditions required to obtain a license was missed;
- the organizer does not allow or interferes with the implementation of control in accordance with gambling legislation;
- shows a false turnover;
- borrows money from players;
- does not support the amount of the initial capital established by gambling legislation.
The decision to revoke a license is also made by the Director of the Office after determining the fulfillment of one or more conditions for its revocation.
The organizers must have an appropriate computer system that provides data storage for all games and has the ability to connect to the Central Computer Management System.
Taxes are paid on lottery winnings (except for the classic Tombola and winnings received in the form of goods or services). The payer of this tax is any person who makes a profit from gambling. The tax rate of 15% is applied to the winnings equal to or exceeding KM 1,000.
The organizer must keep a record of all income tax amounts. Every month, no later than the 15th, the organizer must pay tax and submit a report for the past month.
Online gambling in Bosnia and Herzegovi
Online gambling is currently allowed in both the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government of the Serbian Republic in 2011 issued the first license to provide its services on the Internet to the sports betting operator Wwin. This operator works to this day. In addition to betting on sports events, the online site Wwin offers its users Lotto, Texas Hold’em, Slots, Live Casinos and Virtual Games. Any player who is not registered or does not have an account with a local bank will be banned.
Another permitted online site in Republika Srpska is PlayRos.com. It is an online poker room that also offers casino games and mobile poker using Connective Games software licensed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Players from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina have so far been forced to turn exclusively to the services of foreign operators, since so far not a single license has been issued to organize online gambling.
Bosnia and Herzegovina players have over 189 overseas online casino sites with support in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. Bets are accepted in Bosnian Convertible Mark (KM), Euro (EUR) and US Dollars (USD).
Most Popular Slots in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Players from Bosnia and Herzegovina prefer American and French roulette, blackjack, Texas Hold’em and other types of poker. Slot machines are also in great demand among them. There is no information about specific slot models. However, it is known that Bosnians, Croats and Serbs love to play legendary slot machines such as:
- Book of Ra;
- Sizzling Hot;
- Lucky Lady’s Charm;
- Zeus III;
- Gonzo’s Quest, etc.
There is no information about the developers of gambling software based in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Prospects for the development of gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina is legal and well developed. Since the country today is one of the poorest (due to past wars), the gambling industry is an important part of attracting additional revenues to the state budget. There are two large and rather popular land-based casinos in the country, a huge number of bookmakers and two lottery operators. Every year, these institutions replenish the country’s budget for impressive amounts. Moreover, a significant part of the income is brought not by the residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves, but by tourists who come here from all over the world to admire the local sights.
The only problem in the gambling business in Bosnia and Herzegovina is its complex system of government, associated with the division of the country into two autonomous parts: the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These two government entities have slightly different views on online gambling. Therefore, in the Republika Srpska there are two online gambling websites legally operating. While in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the contrary, they tried to ban online gambling altogether. Because of this, Bosnian players are forced to go to the sites of foreign operators. For the gambling market to flourish and generate even more revenue, the government needs to implement sensible reforms in the gambling industry, as well as improve the country’s governance system as a whole.