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.
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.
A gambling license is intended to protect players, and one of its main functions is to provide a mechanism for resolving disputes when they come up. If you have a dispute with a casino, and the casino is being unreasonable, the gambling authority will help you. For many licenses, this means you can contact the gambling authority to get help processing your withdrawals, claiming money the casino has debited from your account, or resolving other disputes that might arise. The likelihood that the gambling authority will help you in ways that are effective, however, depends on the procedures they have in place for this. This is yet another reason why choosing to play at a casino that has a safe license is important.
Getting help directly from the gambling authority is not always necessary, or even an option. A lot of regulators have now enforced third-party dispute resolution. This means casinos must have an agreement with an arbitrator who will look into disputes on the behalf of players from a particular casino. This ensures your dispute will be reviewed by an objective third party. All trusted online casinos have information about arbitration on their websites if they use this option, or they’ll have the contact information for the gambling authority you should consult. However, you should always try to resolve your issues with the casino first, and a lot of casinos have separate email addresses specifically for handling complaints.
If you’re worried about the security of the transactions you’re making at a casino, you should look for a logo with the acronym PCI DSS. This stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and this is something the payment industry has created. If you see this logo, it means the casino can be trusted for safe money transactions since they follow all of the rules set by the payment industry. Information about this can also be found in an FAQ section on the casino’s website.Another thing to look out for in terms of payments is where your money is kept while you play. Some gambling authorities, all of the best ones actually, regulate what the casino can do with your money while they are holding it. Your money shouldn’t go into a general bank account held by the casino; it should go into an account that is strictly for holding player funds. This means that as long as you have the money in your player account, it can’t be spent by the casino. Your deposit will be kept separate from the operating funds of the casino until your player account is empty, which will happen if you make a funds withdrawal or if you lose the money while playing.
The best known system tool for ensuring that a casino offers fair games is eCogra; however, there are other providers that also offer these kinds of systems. You want to make sure that the casino is using a certified third-party control system to ensure that the games of chance you’re playing are actually based on chance and not on other types of metrics. Rigged games are ones that have been set up to pay out less than they claim to or ones that give some players a greater chance of winning than others.
The eCogra logo can often be found in the footer of the casino’s website, but not all casinos choose to display it. If you can’t see this logo, go to the FAQs and see if you can find information about random number generators. If there are no FAQs on the site, check out their terms and conditions or contact the casino’s support and ask how they ensure their games are safe.
Most trustworthy casinos have information about site security in the website footer, so simply scroll down and look for the logo of a well-known security system.
The gambling license a casino operates under will have a big impact on your security. Not all licenses are equally safe for players for the simple reason that they are issued by different gambling authorities that work in different ways and have different rules. The rules and regulations may be quite similar, but the way they are enforced is a different story entirely. For example, if a casino doesn’t comply with the regulations, some gambling authorities may just issue a fine while others may revoke the casino’s license outright. How often gambling authorities show up for an unscheduled inspection or control will also vary.
The biggest differences between a safe, high quality gambling license and one that isn’t as good will usually show up in the areas of fair gaming, dispute resolution and the rules and systems for identifying and handling problem gamblers (responsible gambling). If your country of residence has its own gambling authority, playing at casinos that are licensed by them will be the safest option for you. Other international licenses that can be trusted are issued by the Malta Gambling Authority and the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. Curacao eGaming is getting better at protecting players whereas licenses from Panama and Costa Rica, for instance, are considered less safe. The worst option is obviously a casino with no license whatsoever.