News & Analysis

Kosovo bans gambling in wake of casino murders

Kosovo has banned all forms of gambling for the next 10 years in an attempt to crack down on crime after two members of staff were murdered in separate incidents at Kosovan casinos last week.

“It’s chaos,” said Kosovo’s prime minister Ramush Haradinaj. “We will no longer allow these venues to be arenas of crime that claim people’s lives.”

Over the weekend, police boarded up most of the 470 gambling venues operating in the country ahead of the ban coming into effect on April 1.

The gambling industry has grown rapidly in Kosovo since the country’s independence from Serbia in 2008.

The Gambling Association of Kosovo said it employed 4,000 workers. Ruzhdi Kosumi, who owns 14 gambling shops, said 40 of his workers would be left jobless.

“The decision to close us was taken after two of our workers were killed. This is nonsense. We lost people and now we are losing our jobs,” Mr Kosumi told Reuters.

The government receives around 20 million euros each year from taxes on gambling. Under the new legislation, passed in an emergency by Kosovo’s parliament on March 28, only a government-run national lottery will be allowed to operate.

Neighbouring Albania banned certain forms gambling in January in an attempt to tackle organised crime.