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North Macedonia – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
Due to an amendment of the nation’s constitution in 2019, Macedonia renamed itself the Republic of Northern Macedonia. For brevity’s sake, we will refer to it as its former name. The country we recognize today is relatively young, having only claimed its independence in 1991, although the spirit of Macedonia has been around for thousands of years. You can see a lot of love for the nation’s ancient history and legends in a lot of slot games today, but the feelings don’t appear to be completely mutual, as the government currently holds a monopoly on the online gambling sector.
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The current online casino scene in Macedonia is completely monopolized by the government with only one establishment legally allowed to operate in the country. A lot of effort has also been put into blocking overseas operations, which has only met mixed results. There are therefore still a number of online casinos that residents can access, although outside the confines of the law. A lot of players also choose to use VPNs, however, this is usually against the terms and conditions of the site. This can lead to players committing to gambling activities that are outside the policies of both the government and the casino, which both carry inherent risks. As players then do not have any legal recourse or policies to back them up, it is highly recommended that you can verify the integrity of a site, as well as become familiar with its rules.
- Is the casino fully licensed?
- What are the policies of the site’s licensing body?
- Do reviews confirm the trustworthiness of the establishment?
- Are your preferred payment methods supported?
- Will you be able to participate in any promotional offers?
Above are some example questions you should be asking yourself before ever committing any of your information to account creation. At GoodLuckMate our articles and reviews provide concise and insightful information that can help you pick the right casino or gain a better understanding of certain aspects of the industry.
All forms of offline gambling were made legal alongside the country’s independence from the USSR, whose government previously had a complete ban on the activity. It was then in 2011 that online gambling also became fully legal. This looked to be great news for players all over the country, however, a compromise had to be made. 2014 saw the first issue of a Macedonian online gambling license, awarded to Casinos Austria. The Macedonian government controls a majority share of the only operation in town at 51%, while the casino owns the other 49%. The control also extends to online lotteries and excludes additional operations from being able to legally participate or apply for a license.
While the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) are committed to blocking any other online casino from being accessible to residents, it appears that only able to achieve the blockage of a small percentage of sites. Residents are therefore still able to access online casinos from abroad, most of which operate on a perfectly legal basis within their licensing body’s jurisdiction.
Although there are many gambling sites still accessible to residents of Macedonia, it will most likely be the case that they offer little to no localization options for players from the nation. Instead of Macedonian language support, sites will most likely instead offer a default English language setup, alongside a few other options. Promotional materials will also be limited, as these tend to go towards markets that are the primary focus of the casino. It is therefore recommended to look for VIP and loyalty programs that continually reward a player’s on-site activity, regardless of their place of residence. Sports betting fans should also be able to find local sporting events being listed, while also being able to sometimes request odds to be offered for some unlisted events.
This will be another case of having to reach a compromise. The relatively small adoption rate of the Macedonian denar, alongside the government’s gambling monopolization, means that not much incentive can be conjured up for a casino to support the currency. You will therefore most likely be asked to create an account using either euros or US dollars. An alternative many players around the world are taking is using cryptocurrencies to keep their player accounts topped up. Cryptocurrencies do take a little bit of homework and understanding to figure out but are becoming more and more available at online casinos. This allows you to purchase cryptocurrencies with your traditional currency and then use them to top up your casino balance and start playing.
The current online gambling scene looks less than ideal in Macedonia with only one game in town. The land-based sector has developed quite a bit over the past couple of decades, however, as the country is home to five land-based casinos, alongside hundreds of slot halls and betting shops scattered around. There were seven casinos available, although unfortunately two were permanently shut down due to financial instabilities caused by the Covid pandemic. Even the small town of Gevgelija is affectionately known as the Macedonian Las Vegas, thanks to the establishments in and around the town.
There seems to be little hope for the online market though, as the government appears to be content with the single operation monopoly that is currently going on. The government’s request to have ISPs block overseas operations also shows an increased interest in keeping it that way. While this hasn’t stopped many online casinos from still allowing residents to sign up, the increased risks, alongside a decreased competition and value that players are left with are not ideal.