Serbia is a state of South-Eastern Europe with a legalized gambling business. Today gambling in the country is strictly regulated. For 2017 in Serbia, legislative provisions clearly define the system of organization and taxation in the sectors of lottery business, sports betting, casino games, poker, as well as all types of online gambling. The government continues to work on reforming laws, seeking to completely close the black market and ensure full legalization of all online and offline gambling establishments.
The history of the development of Serbian gambling legislation
Serbia’s gambling business has a long history. As a tool for the development of economic and tourism industries, it was used after the Second World War, even during the existence of Yugoslavia.
The first official gambling law was passed by the authorities in the sixties of the twentieth century. According to its provisions, gambling was divided into two broad categories:
- classic games;
- special gambling.
Around the same time, the first casino appeared in Belgrade.
This law served as the main provision for the organization of gambling until the 1990s. With the onset of the crisis, most of the gambling establishments went into the shadow economy.
A new round of development of the industry began in the early 2000s. In 2001, in an effort to restore the legality of the gambling business, the Serbian government creates a new legislative act. According to its provisions, the state receives a monopoly on the conduct of the activities of all casinos and gambling halls.
In 2004, another transformation took place in the industry. The country’s leadership adopts a new gambling law. Entered into force in 2005, it divides gambling into 4 categories:
- classic gambling – various types of lotteries, including lotto and bingo;
- special gambling: roulettes, card games, craps, video slots, other entertainment in land-based casinos;
- online Games;
- games in which participants play against each other.
The monopoly right to support the gambling industry is still reserved for the state.
By 2008, 5 licenses were issued to open a casino in Belgrade. The largest gambling house was the Loutraki hotel-casino.
Representatives of the Serbian gambling association JAKTA positively assessed the operation of the 2004 Law. As stated by the president of the association Mirjana Adimovid, the new provisions had a positive impact on the development of the industry.
In particular, before the introduction of the aforementioned act, according to official data, slightly more than 5,000 slot machines and about 300 bookmakers were registered. After that, 78 operators – owners of 15,000 slots and more than 1,700 sweepstakes – were legalized on the territory of the country.
Modern regulation of gambling in Serbia
The latest changes in the legislation, which have completed the system of regulation of the gambling business, were considered in 2011 and came into force in 2012. As a result of the introduction of new regulations, the Serbian government has lost its monopoly on the organization of online games. This decision opened up the market for all international operators holding the appropriate licenses.
At the same time, the country’s authorities began an active fight against shadow foreign sites. In just a few months, about 70 web portals were blocked. These include sites of well-known brands, including Bwin, William Hill, Bet365, and others. According to the government, the negative consequences of such a decision are offset by the emergence of local sites. However, their number is rather limited.
However, the companies mentioned are still given the opportunity to develop the Serbian market. This time on legal terms. To obtain the right to provide services, you must issue an appropriate license.
An interesting feature of Serbian legislation is the taxation system for the players themselves. Users who receive winnings from sports bets are required to pay 15% tax on profits. At the same time, winnings from poker or slot machines are not taxed.
Regulators of gambling in Serbia
Today the gambling industry in Serbia is under the management and control of several departments at once:
- Management of gambling (Games of Chance Administration, GCA). The tasks of the department include issuing licenses, monitoring the activities of all land-based casinos and online gambling portals.
- Tax Department under the Ministry of Finance. The service is also engaged in checking compliance with legal requirements, as well as auditing financial transactions, monitoring the timely payment of fees and charges.
In addition, the Ministry of Defense is directly involved in the control of the gambling business in Serbia. In certified laboratories of the department and institutes operating under its auspices, gambling equipment and software are checked.
Conditions for obtaining gambling licenses for online casinos in Serbia
According to the provisions of the 2011 gambling law, licenses are issued separately for each category of gambling. The documents are valid for 10 years. However, the owner of the gambling business pays monthly fees and related taxes.
The rates depend on the type of activity. In particular, the cost of an online casino license is EUR 2,500 per month. Tax rate – 15% of total income, but not less than EUR 7,500 per month.
Only Serbian companies (legal entities registered in the country) with a capital of at least EUR 250,000 are allowed to obtain licenses. In addition, potential licensees undertake to form a guarantee bank fund – EUR 150,000.
When applying for a license, the operator must indicate:
- company name and address;
- registration data;
- documents confirming the availability of the required volume of investments, sources of their origin and a number of other documents.
In addition, detailed descriptions of IT systems, their backup storages, backup procedures in the event of an accident, and other technical documentation confirming the reliability of the future online casino are provided.
Modern online gambling in Serbia
Currently, online gambling in Serbia is actively developing. There are 4 “local” operators in the country:
Originally established as betting companies, today they have their own casino gambling divisions. Operators are engaged in the distribution and promotion of content from international gaming software producers.
Citizens of the country are allowed to visit multilingual online casinos, where Serbian is also available:
- Energy Casino;
- Bet-at-Home Casino.
Both portals offer decent bonus policy conditions, a wide selection of currencies, and various methods of conducting financial transactions.
In addition, users from Serbia are invited by casinos Omni, NetBet, Cherry, and others. At the service of players are slot machines from the world’s leading manufacturers NetEnt, Playtech, Microgaming and others.
The game for Serbian dinars is still available in few establishments. In particular, the online bookmakers 1xBet and Big Bet World accept this currency. However, given the dynamism of the market development, we can expect an increase in this list.
Despite the legalization of the gambling business and the opening of markets for foreign operators, a large percentage of shadow casinos still remain in the country. The fight against illegal establishments continues to this day. At the same time, there are positive changes: the introduction of effective laws and regulations helps to promote the industry.
Many well-known manufacturers are interested in developing the country’s market. In particular, contracts for the supply of software were concluded with Oryx, Playtech, NetEnt and others. And the emergence of new operators and online gambling portals is attracting more and more local players.
Considering these factors, it is possible to predict the success of the development of the gambling business in Serbia. Although, perhaps not as dynamic as we would like.