| Prime minister
Ramush Haradinaj implements 10-year ban in attempt to cut crime
Kosovo has banned all gambling for the next decade
in an attempt to crack down on crime after two casino staff were murdered last
Betting, particularly on sport, has become hugely popular in
recent years in Kosovo, where about a third of its 1.8 million people are
Speaking to parliament, which passed the bill late on
Thursday, the prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, said the measure was aimed at
strengthening public security.
We will not allow
these venues to be arenas of crime that claim peoples lives, he
wrote later on Facebook.
A police officer has been arrested as a
suspect in one of killings, which took place earlier this month in two separate
casinos within days of each other.
Before the ban, the police boarded
up most of the 470 gambling venues in Kosovo.
The government takes in
20m (£17m) annually through taxes on gambling.
week, Haradinaj said only a state-controlled lottery would be allowed to
operate. It is total chaos, a total abuse and it is good that we are
stopping this, he told a press conference.
The gambling industry
has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. The Gambling Association of Kosovo said
it employed 4,000 workers. Ruzhdi Kosumi, who owns 14 gambling shops, said 40
of his workers would be left jobless.
The decision to close us
was taken after two of our workers were killed. This is nonsense. We lost
people and now we are losing our jobs, Kosumi told Reuters.
Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is one of the
poorest countries in Europe, with political instability, crime and corruption
putting off investors.
Neighbouring Albania banned gambling in January
in an attempt to tackle organised crime and social problems, such as addiction
Albanias parliament passed a law last year, 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 sports competitions, while
also protecting household finances.
At one time there were 50 casinos
operating in Tirana but currently there's only one. The government's decision
has shut more than 4,000 shops, made 8,000 people unemployed, while the loss of
revenue to the state is $51 million dollars a year.
practices are popular, and the betting association expects illegal gambling to
carry on despite the ban.