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Albania: Income tax implications following changes to gambling laws

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The Albanian government approved a series of changes to gambling laws on October 25 2018, which are effective from January 1 2019. This will have wide-reaching effects considering the gambling industry is the second largest employer in Albania after the energy sector.

Sports betting and slot machines will be closed from December 31 2018, and will only be available online. The only gambling activities that will be allowed to continue operations will be gambling at casino resorts and large hotels in residential areas, playing bingo games on television, and the national lottery.

Furthermore, details regarding the suspension of the Albanian Gambling Supervisory Authority (GSA) has been published, due to its restructuring.

Most importantly, the new gambling law will affect income tax revenues as well as employment. The government considers these effects irrelevant when compared to the negative social effect of gambling and the high risks associated with money laundering.

The gambling industry's turnover in 2018 was around €130 million ($147.3 million), an amount which should be taken with a grain of salt as the GSA estimates that the declared income from this sector is less than a half, with the other part remaining unofficial. The effect in state income would be a decrease in the revenue from tax on gambling of around €40 million.

Sports betting has become an undisputable social phenomenon in recent years. It is estimated that Albania – a country of 2.8 million people – is currently home to more than 4,000 sports betting locations all over the republic. The spread of the gambling industry has caused concern about its impact on low-income families.

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