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Update at 15:30 CET (15 Feb. 2024): 

Under the direction of the Speaker of the Assembly, Mrs. Lindita Nikolla, the Assembly convened today in the next plenary session.

Under the conditions of holding an abnormal session, caused by the actions of the parliamentary opposition, the session immediately began with the voting of bills according to the agenda.

The session adopted two bills and two project decisions.

The bill “For an addition to law no. 7651, dated 21.12.1992 ‘On official holidays and memorial days’”, as amended, was approved with 74 votes in favor.

The bill “For some additions and amendments to law no. 155/2015, ‘On gambling in the Republic of Albania’”, as amended, was approved with 72 votes in favor. Also, the respective amendments for this bill were approved with 72 votes in favor.

The project decision “For some changes in the Assembly decision no.127/2018 ‘On the approval of the structure, staff, and categorization of job positions of the Institute of Statistics, INSTAT’”, was approved with 74 votes in favor.

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The project decision “For the approval of the organizational structure, staff, and classification of salaries of part-time employees of the Central Election Commission”, was approved with 74 votes in favor.

The Albanian parliament was about to vote to reverse a five-year-old ban on online sports betting as the government admitted that it had failed to control the illegal activity. The proposed draft law, which would permit licensing for ten betting companies with prior experience, was scheduled to be voted on Thursday, February 8, 2024, during the plenary session. However, Bledi Cuci, the Chairman of the Socialist Party, unexpectedly withdrew the said law without providing an explanation.

“At the request of the Socialist Party, it was requested to withdraw from the discussion of the draft law on gambling,” the Speaker of the Parliament, Lindita Nikolla, said. “It was approved with 74 votes in favor.”

Nevertheless, the law on allowing online betting activities in Albania shall be returned for a vote in the parliament. After withdrawing from the vote in the session, the parliamentary group of the Socialist Party has decided to modify at least two of the 33 articles.

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Among the proposed amendments, the revised draft includes a minimum requirement for foreign shareholders to hold a minimum of 30% stake in competing companies and/or organisations alongside a mandate for substantial experience in the gambling sector across at least three European countries over a period of no less than three years.

Moreover, adjustments to the re-establishment fund have been proposed, with an increase from the initial allocation of 20 million lek to a minimum of 40 million lek. Additionally, several provisions have been also introduced aiming to limit the influence of betting organizers by prohibiting them from sponsoring sports clubs. Furthermore, the roles of the President of the National Football Federation as well as the President of the Olympic Committee in the Licensing Commission have been eliminated.

Additionally, the proposed legislation act is also trying to strengthen oversight with a new clause that mandates state supervision over the activities of concessionary companies responsible for developing and maintaining the central online monitoring system. This oversight will be carried out by the Licensing Commission through regular audits.

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Finally, changes were also made in the articles on the winning rate of national lottery players, which was reduced from 80% to ‘not less than 50%’.

This article has been written by Efstathios Pappas – Business Development Associate at Novibet

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