Experts of the CASEXE studio will tell you about the wagering industry and sports betting niche in the Balkans. You will find out which countries are currently worth investing in to become a successful market participant.
The growth of the iGaming sphere began in the 2000s. After the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, several new states emerged in the Balkans, including Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Territorial claims of neighbouring countries continued until 1999, when NATO sent in peacekeeping troops.
In the early 2000s, things calmed down. The local governments began to develop the economy, and businessmen started to attract investment from abroad. Gambling has quickly become a priority sector in many countries, given its strong connection with tourism.
The Balkan Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by seas, which has created a favourable atmosphere for the growth of the recreational niche. Fashionable resorts with hotels, restaurants, rest zones, and casinos were built in coastal areas.
Strengthening of the gambling market in the region was affected by close ties with the European Union:
After entering the EU, countries adjusted their casino legislation in accordance with the norms of the union. The main emphasis was placed on security and protection of confidential data, adherence to responsible wagering principles, licensing, and content certification.
The emergence of the iGaming sector began in the 2010s. Online casinos and virtual betting shops started to actively appear in the region, given the high interest in the placement of bids among the locals.
Let us consider the key features of the industry:
In some countries (for example, Romania or Croatia), casino entertainment is completely legal. Land-based location and digital platforms bring millions of profit to their owners and stable revenues to the state budget.
In some jurisdictions (e.g. Albania), all gambling manifestations are strictly banned.
In Kosovo, Croatia, Slovenia, and other countries, the government has the exclusive right to organise lotteries. In Slovenia, a limited number of casino licences were issued. Despite the liberalisation of the market, authorities still have an enormous influence on business.
Key features of the region:
All this encourages top companies to open more branches. The Evolution Gaming brand, for example, has live studios in Bulgaria, and Pragmatic Play actively operates in Romania.
Compared to Western Europe, the local market appeared later. Therefore, operators have room to grow, which is extremely important for successful business scaling.
Currently, many well-known brands are in the process of obtaining a licence, given the low competition in the region.
Working in the Balkans is profitable due to the average level of wages by EU standards and the affordable cost of services. This includes website hosting, payment processing, marketing, consulting (accounting support and resolution of legal issues), and other aspects from which the monthly expenses of an online casino are formed.
The local gambling market is considered one of the most advanced in the Balkans due to the following factors:
ONJN issues 3 types of permits:
Licence fees depend on the type of permit and the company's annual GGR. Holders of a certificate of the first category pay €15.6–312 thousand.
For B2B providers, the mandatory fee is only €9.5 thousand. This is one of the lowest rates in the EU, which encourages brands to register their business and open branches in Romania.
The local B2B market is actively growing. More and more iGaming firms appear in the country. They create jobs and order hosting, development, and technical support services.
The key requirement of ONJN is adherence to the principle of a conscious attitude toward the placement of bets:
It is the second most populous country in the region and is also a leader in terms of GGR.
At the end of 2022, the casino niche generated more than €650 thousand. It is one of the most promising sectors of the Greek economy, along with construction, tourism, and utility services.
The HGC authority began its work in 2013. Before 2020, there were no significant changes. The market remained of little interest to investors due to high tax rates and strict requirements for applicants.
About 3 years ago, the government reorganised the sphere and started to offer 2 types of permits to choose from:
The cost of the document depends on the type of gambling business — from €2 million to €3 million for the entire validity period of the certificate (7 years). The amount is divided into 7 parts and transferred to the treasury at the beginning of each year.
Entrepreneurs are obliged to:
Serious financial requirements did not scare potential investors away. On the contrary, in 2020–2023, many software vendors entered the market, appreciating the prospects of gambling in the country.
The HGC licence was granted to the following top providers:
Providers value Greece for its transparent regulation, the high popularity of casino entertainment among locals, and its well-developed IT infrastructure.
The country followed the path of Great Britain, establishing strict requirements related to advertising and bonuses for players:
It is possible to promote the placement of bids in casinos and betting shops only on one website. Distributors have the right to cooperate only with those affiliates that have been registered with HGC.
All forms of gambling were legalised in 2014 after the country joined the EU.
After that, large investments were attracted to the region, both in the iGaming sector and related industries (construction of leisure complexes and data centres).
The regulatory framework of Croatia is developed on the European example: everything is fair and transparent, and the maximum protection level for players and B2B partners is guaranteed.
Let us consider why entrepreneurs choose this jurisdiction:
The licence is issued for 15 years. Thanks to this, entrepreneurs can make long-term plans, scale their businesses, and launch interesting projects.
The main problem of the Croatian market remains the exorbitant cost of permits. The annual fee is €400 thousand. This is one of the highest rates in Europe.
The niche in Croatia is high-margin due to the rapid growth of the industry in general and the influx of foreign capital. The income that operators get from managing a casino or a sportsbook platform fully covers certification fees and tax deductions.
Investors consider the country a stable one due to its membership in the EU and NATO.
At the beginning of 2022, the Croatian Ministry of Finance announced tightening of the regulation. Changes have been made to the payment policy. Business owners are required to carry out AML scanning for all money transfers that exceed €2,500.
This is a dynamically developing market that works in accordance with European legislation and has a strong monopoly:
The sportsbook sector is the most popular in Cyprus. The growth of the market took place in the “Covid” years of 2020–2021.
The NBA certificate covers athletic betting and eSports disciplines. Distributors can apply for annual or biennial permits. Their cost is €30,000 and €45,000 respectively.
Such a low price, together with a loyal fiscal burden, attracts bookmakers from all over Europe. They open branches, rent offices, and hire employees, thus creating significant added costs for the island's economy.
Income tax is only 10% of GGR. Entrepreneurs are also required to pay a monthly fee of 3%. The authorities are redirecting money to social needs and infrastructure-building in the country.
This is a small but emerging market with stable legislation. The main advantage is its membership in the EU.
This simplifies interaction with B2B partners and gives confidence to investors. All types of casino entertainment are allowed in the region, and there are no restrictions on the number of certificates that can be obtained.
The cost of a document varies from €50,000 to €70,000.
Owners of iGaming sites need to make an initial contribution of €300,000. The money can be spent on the rental of premises, acquisition of server equipment, and other needs. It is important for the government that funds remain in the local economy and are not transferred to offshore accounts.
The State Gambling Commission is responsible for the issuance of permits. The regulator has accredited the eCOGRA international organisation as its structural unit. The laboratory deals with online monitoring of the niche.
Such a pastime is allowed in all countries in the region except for Albania.
Experts of the CASEXE studio provide assistance in licensing and launching iGaming projects from scratch. We offer our clients to buy a turnkey online casino, a White Label platform, a Bitcoin resource, and other profitable solutions.
From us, it is also possible to order the following useful services:
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