Albania opens tender for casinos in capital Tirana


Albania’s gambling regulator has launched a tender for casino operators looking to open in the country’s capital Tirana.

Last week, the Albanian Gambling Supervision Authority published a notice inviting casino operators to submit proposals for swanky gaming venues in a designated area in the center of the capital. The submissions must be received by the regulator by October 22, with the review of these documents commencing the following day.

Under the legislation Albania approved earlier this month, companies wishing to conduct casino operations in Tirana must have experience in this field and capital reserves of ALL1.2b (US$11.4m), strongly suggesting that nobody’s expecting a Macau-style $4b integrated resort here.

Over the past decade, Albania’s collection of several dozen small casinos was systematically purged out of existence, along with most other forms of gambling, including online gambling. By 2019, the market was down to a single casino in Tirana’s Regency Hotel, and that venue’s license recently expired.

The company behind that casino, Adria Entertainment (formerly known as Apex-al), was issued a new 10-year gaming license in May. Conveniently, Adria’s parent company is currently developing buildings in the center of Tirana designated as part of the new gaming-friendly region.

Albania’s opposition parties have suggested there’s something askew with Prime Minister Edi Rama’s about-face on the subject of casinos. Some have called for a public investigation into the speed with which amendments to the existing gambling laws were imposed.

Albania has so far not offered any signs that it intends to relent on the online gambling ban it imposed in January 2019, but the government is also not trying all that hard to eliminate the online options available to its citizens.

Albanian media outlet Exit performed a test shortly after the online ban took effect that found 47 of the 100 most popular Albania-facing gambling sites were still accessible. A similar test performed this month found that 42 of these sites remained accessible, which Exit cited as evidence that the government’s anti-online ‘specialist taskforce’ was either not up to the challenge or not serious about the job.