The internet age has opened innumerable opportunities across industries. The introduction of the worldwide web technology has been lauded as the greatest invention of our times. For Macedonians, the internet could not have come at a better time. From payment solutions to online casinos, the future of web-based gaming can only look brighter.
Geographically, the Republic of Macedonia as is officially referred is found in South Eastern side of Europe in the Balkan Peninsula. With a population of close to 600,000 people, this is a former state of Yugoslavia member which officially gained independence in 1991.
Coincidentally, in the mid-1990s or thereabouts, the world witnessed the rollout of the internet, a scenario which saw Macedonia start a great journey towards the universal acceptance of gambling whether online or offline. Perhaps, the embrace of online gaming was greatly influenced by its proximity to Europe which has been christened as the pioneer of online gaming.
Before the proliferation of online gambling sites, Macedonia top land-based gambling halls were located in major towns like Skopje and Gevgelija. There were options for slot machines, Poker rooms, and bookmaking and table games. Macedonians of majority age were free to wager on their choices as gambling was from the start legal across the country. Nowadays, you are able to play at home, you just need to read some online casino reviews and choose your operator - everything else is so easy.
Macedonian gambling laws cover among other things the casino operations, licensing, promotion of fair and responsible gambling, establishment of arcade halls and bookmakers’ offices. Though web-based gaming has significantly taken roots, laws guiding the industry have not been fully fine-tuned, but authorities have their eyes set on the matter.
Though there are many legislations that have been put forward to guide gambling activities in Macedonia, currently the market is controlled with reference to the 2011 legislation referred to as the “Law on Games of Chance and Entertainment Games". The law outlined the type of gambling activities that are legal in Macedonia. They include; Casino games, slot machines, sports betting, instant lotteries, and lotto. If you are of the majority age, you can participate in those types of bets and gambling. For sports betting, normally there are various markets which you must familiarize so as to leverage the likely outcome of your stake.
When it comes to online gaming, the legal framework is still at the infant stage. However, going by the initial drafts, we should expect a monopolistic approach whereby the Macedonian government owns at least 51% of the operators that are associated with specific online casinos.
There is a planned exclusive Macedonian enterprise that will be set up to control the activities of the industry while reporting to the central government. Such an approach is, however, likely to limit freedom of gamblers as you can only wager on sites that have been accepted by the government. Hitherto, some foreign-based casinos have been barred from accessing the Macedonia cyberspace pointing to a rigid arrangement where the freedom of choice is curtailed. Perhaps, such moves have been prompted by the need to expand the Macedonian revenue bases while at the same time closing in on the rogue operators who may be determined to unscrupulously benefit from your hard-earned cash.
To effectively control illegal gambling whether online or otherwise, the operators must get authorization from the republic’s office and the state’s ministry of Finance. Processing the license is normally a tedious process that may take up to 9 months after initial application. This is probably due to the close scrutiny that is afforded to the applicants to ensure they possess the bare minimums.
Some of the specifications require the applicant to have a minimum authorized capital of 2,500,000 Euros or an amount equivalent to the said figure in local currency. Also, the operator, whether an individual or a group of partners, must provide a financial guarantee of at least 300,000 in the Macedonian National Bank. This is perhaps to ensure only serious, and deep-pocketed entrepreneurs venture into the industry since reputable casinos require enormous capital outlay to guarantee the security of gamblers’ money.
For casino operators in Macedonia, the gaming and casino halls must be rightfully equipped regarding the set Macedonian standards. Such establishments should not be near educational facilities. This is a deterrence measure which seeks to stop school-going children from engaging in gambling activities.
Hotels which in-house gaming establishments must be tourist centers and they should be of minimum four stars in ratings. Like other gaming halls, the administration of such hotels must effectively restrict minors from accessing the casino machines. Nonetheless, owning a casino or gaming platform within a hotel establishment is less costly relative to pure land-based casino licenses. For instance, with a statutory fund of 450,000 Euros, you can be given the permission to operate a casino. The size of the premises must, however, be at least 200 square meters.
Once you have met the minimum standards, the government through the Ministry of Internal affairs in collaboration with the Macedonia Tax administrator and the Ministry of Finance will countercheck to ascertain your eligibility or lack of it thereof.
With the above set standards, Macedonia has strived to provide the best investment environment for the hotel industry investors as this is seen as a fruitful way of attracting gaming tourists who frequent the country’s sky and therapeutic spa resorts.
Macedonian Government and the Online Gambling Puzzle
The online gambling puzzle is hard for Macedonian government authorities. Though proposals have been put forward on the controlling of virtual gambling and betting sites, a dark cloud hangs over the government given the fact that Macedonia has been a candidate for accession to the European Union, which is known for lenient laws towards online gaming. The cyberspace may be restricted, but Macedonians will always find ways of poking noses into offshore sites which come calling on a daily basis.
Also, compounding the matter is the European legislation which advocates for free enterprise when it comes to various markets including gambling.
As such, there are some renowned operators who have already put their foot in the Macedonian market due to the existing market gap between the demand and supply of gaming services. Examples of such casinos are Mucho Vegas Casino, Moongose casino, Raging Bull Casino, Emu Casino and Rizk casino to mention just a few. In the event that Macedonia fully accepts online gaming, brace yourself for a proliferation of huge casinos since operators have rolled their sleeves worldwide to provide unbeatable gambling experiences.
Vibrant Gaming Market
Macedonia relatively closed at it is in terms of web-based gambling, may, however, be forced by the growing demand to loosen its grip on the control of industry and allow her citizens to enjoy the benefits of gaming liberalization. Whether this will take years or months, Macedonia presents a vibrant gaming market that is ripe for investment given the exciting slot games, live dealer casino games and poker variants that continue to hit the market on a regular basis. Furthermore, the introduction of casino applications has even drawn the attention of Macedonians closer to gaming as nowadays you can enjoy your best slot session while you are at home or taking that relaxing vacation by the beach. Such applications have been designed with impressive versatility to ensure hassle-free access on all operating systems.