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This guide to internet sports betting offers a short summary of the development of the industry in Serbia. Next, online gambling is discussed alongside how it is taxed by the government. Lastly, you will know how different platforms cater to Serbian players and conclude with predictions about betting in Serbia.

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Early Regulation and Changes in Serbia

In the wake of Yugoslavia’s division in 90s, Serbia maintained the 1964 laws which legalized all kinds of gambling. This resulted in gambling becoming a national affair as those running them were required to obtain permits from government. The majority of operators were only allowed to offer a football forecasting game, using small outlets and kiosks located mostly in Belgrade in late sixties even though casino was opened at that time also on the city.

The political and structural damages that followed the 1990s conflicts extensively affected much of Serbia. In this backdrop, betting on sports and other forms of gambling attracted a large criminal element and it was easy to find illegal bookmakers. The situation remained thus until 2004 when the state transitioned into a more democratic government.

The Act came into effect in 2005 and allowed for all types of gambling to be regulated and opened up the way for private companies. [1]

Before 2004, the number of legal betting shops in Serbia only amounted to 300 but increased to 1,728 following that year’s legislation. This led to the Serbian government accruing €155m through gaming taxes and fees within three years leading up to 2008 [2].

Even though the number of gambling houses have increased legally, Belgrade still remains the hot spot for such businesses while unregulated operations are still common in other parts of Serbia. The Meridan Group is the biggest legal operator with most of its shops situated in Belgrade and it has also come up with their own online bookie after being licensed by Malta since 2008.

Flag of Serbia

Legislation Introduced and Access to Gambling Sites Blocked

In Serbia, sports betting is provided through a number of options, despite the legality that may sometimes be questionable. One of the six sovereign states born out of Yugoslavia’s disintegration is Serbia. It is located within Central Europe – Southeastern Europe nexus, but it has no coast. Prior to 2008 Kosovo was also part of Serbia, although it is now recognized as an independent country by most UN member states.

Over the years, while online gambling sites rapidly increased in number, Serbia did not pay attention to the state of the industry until 2011[3]. Any company could have offered betting services in Serbia without infringing any law and without submitting taxes to the state.

The legal framework detailed the guidelines for running an internet based corporation within its territory which included taxes and levies as well as provision that any company involved in online gaming had to have servers within the country’s boundaries.

After sometime, internet service providers (ISPs) were ordered to deny access to 70 websites that offered gambling [4]. These comprised of big names in the gambling industry such as Bwin.Party, 888, Betfair, Skybet and William Hill. It initially caused anxiety among some players in the sector but it soon became apparent that ISPs had not enforced the ban despite earlier warning of criminal charges as they believed the ruling was illegal.

Some companies withdrew based on their legitimacy concerns elsewhere, Serb market being too small for the risk of operation and software deals with PlayTech. PlayTech also provides software for Serbia’s State Lottery and their betting sites.

The impacts, however, were much less severe than expected because the government did not follow through with enforcing these regulations. Moreover, there are no statutes that deter residents from accessing foreign betting websites so that one can still access most of the sites undisrupted. Be certain to select well-established and registered bookmakers when you decide to make this move.

Serbian Gambling Taxes

The government has not shown any signs of their intention to impose taxes on individuals’ return on gambling. However, if this is done, several firms having a gray economy and which have no clear enforcement by Serbia would imply that mechanisms for taxing the public properly may not be there.

You Can Access Foreign Online Sportsbooks But Euros Are the Best Option

Other than a handful of state licensed operators, there are also a few operators who provide both sports betting in Serb and customer support though not many. Nonetheless, the major European languages including Russian are offered by most websites.

It is the same thing when it comes to using Dinar, and in almost all instances when depositing money you will have to change them into Euros for storage. This is somewhat of a bother because normally there are charges for changing money and betting has to be done in Euros.

The payment options accepted are Serbian credit and debit cards, which include those with the Visa and MasterCard logos. This can help to reduce exchange rate costs when transferring money between sites. E-Wallets like Neteller and Skrill also offer a fast way to do this online especially when one has their wallet in Euros.

Serbia men's national handball team

Possible Regulations to Come in Serbia

This was in line with the suggestions that Serbia might increase its control of the online market during 2014, though there has been no indication of that so far.

There is a reason for this: Serbia is in the process of joining the European Union which means that it might be compelled to permit EU licensed sites to be active regardless of what is done today; otherwise, its presence at more than ten national lottery and casino spots would have been highly inapposite.

References

[1] Serbia – A Regulatory Report – Chapter Two – Gambling Compliance

Chapter 3 – Gambling Compliance in Serbia – A Regulatory Report.

Serbia is coming up with fresh legislation that will help them to regulate online gambling activities effectively. [30 words]

[4] Serbia Bans Access to 70 Websites – Calvin Ayre

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