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Kosovo is one of the smaller countries in Europe, having broken off from Serbia back in 2008, although Serbia does still consider it still part of its territory, as do several other countries. Most countries in the United Nations recognize Kosovo as an independent country though, although not enough to entitle them to membership. (1)
It does function as an independent nation though, and does have its own laws and their government does rule over their people. With a country this young though, they obviously don’t have much of a history as far as coming up with their own laws, gambling laws included, although they did pass one in 2012, called the Law on Games, making gambling legal in Kosovo, along with setting the conditions that gambling will be allowed here, and continue to look to refine the laws here on gambling. (2)
The city of Pristina, the capital and largest city in Kosovo, has also stepped in with their own regulations, setting out conditions where casinos can be located within their city. There is already a couple of casinos in Kosovo, the King Casino and the Swiss Casino, both in Pristina. (3)
While the King Casino it’s not a large casino by any means, it’s popular with both the locals and with the tourists and by all accounts is doing quite well and is also well liked. The Swiss Casino, on the other hand, has had its troubles and even shut down a couple of times, and is less well liked by players in Kosovo.
There is also a fair bit of “illegal gambling” in Kosovo, enough of it that the authorities here have really taken notice and a lot of this concerns bookmaking operations which are said to be run by organized crime. There is talk of changing the gambling law here to better accommodate those who wish to engage in various forms of gambling such as sports betting who are not served by the existing legal forms of gambling that are offered.
It is true that if there is a demand for something, whether it be legal or not isn’t usually much of an obstacle, and people will tend to do it anyway, even though the levels of participation may be reduced by having it deemed illegal. (4)
So there’s been a movement to look to shut down some of these operations and seize the gambling equipment used, and that can be pretty effective when it comes to shutting down land based gambling, but in this day and age all people have to do is to turn to online gambling, which is much further from the long arm of the law, in spite of how it is motivated it is to intervene and restrict.
Poker is one of those types of gambling that isn’t available at licensed establishments, so all poker for money has to be confined to off the grid games or online. Of course online poker is going to be the easiest way people can get their poker fix, and this is exactly what most Kosovo poker players do.
Online Poker in Kosovo
While Kosovo does regulate and license land based gambling, and does so pretty specifically within its Games of Chance law, including setting out penalties for companies offering gambling in Kosovo that do not comply with the law, this law is exclusively aimed at Kosovo companies offering gambling within Kosovo to those residing in Kosovo. (5)
It’s not that the Kosovo government has any jurisdiction over foreign based online gambling operators anyway, but it is noteworthy that all gambling law here is directed toward getting gambling operators to comply and none of it is directed at players, in other words prohibiting Kosovo residents from partaking in certain forms of gambling, including online gambling.
So there isn’t even any basis for the government to take any action to limit online gambling here, and in order to do so they either would have to update the current law or come up with a new one which would address this, and then and only then could they do what several other countries have done, which would be to try to restrict players’ access to these foreign based gambling websites, or to look to restrict financial transactions between their residents and these foreign companies.
People in Kosovo simply play at whatever online gambling sites and online poker sites they wish and there’s nothing at all stopping them from doing so at the present time. This is the ideal situation really, and while the attempts of governments to restrict access to online gambling though things like blocking access to websites is only somewhat effective, and stops no one that is willing to implement simple workarounds to this, it’s definitely better not to have to deal with any of this and have the complete freedom to just go where you want on the internet and play where you want.
It is worth noting that Serbia, which Kosovo was formerly a part of, and still is if you ask the Serbians, does have online gambling regulations, which by the way aren’t that well thought up or put together, and do seek to blacklist many gambling websites, with limited effectiveness.
However, given that Kosovo is now independent of Serbia and have their own country now, they are no longer subject to Serbian law and have laws of their own now and these are the ones that govern them.
There isn’t anything on the horizon at all right now in Kosovo as far as putting together an online gambling regulatory framework, although it’s possible that we may see this at some point in the future, should the Kosovo government look to at least try to increase their tax revenues from gambling by looking to tax online gambling as well.
That’s a ways off at best though and for now online poker players in Kosovo can merely select the online poker sites that they want to play at from the full selection of the world’s best poker sites, which is as good as it gets when it comes to playing poker online and certainly a lot better situation than you find in a lot of other countries these days.