Poker in Albania

Introduction

Population: 2,862,000

Capital: Tirana

Currency: Albanian Lek (ALL)

Time Zone: UTC+1

Casinos with Poker

  • Grand Casino Tirana
  • Albania Poker Club

Albania had two major ideological influences working against a regular gambling market throughout its history.

Between 1946 and 1992 the country existed as the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. Under the Communist regime, gambling was prohibited and regarded as an “idle bourgeois pastime”.

In 1992, that regime fell. However, in the new republic, the majority (according to the latest figures, 56%) of the population returned to their Islamic religion – Islam has been the most dominant religion in Albania since the Ottoman conquest of the late 14th Century.

Islam, just like Communism, frowns upon all sorts of games of chance. The texts refer to them as “maisir” and they’re strictly forbidden.

Despite all that, gambling was actually legal in Albania from 1992 up until a bill passed in October 2018 banning almost all kinds of gambling, both land-based and online. However, the Albanian legislature didn’t cite ideological reasons for the prohibitions. They claim they passed the bill to stifle gambling addiction in the country; as well as to tackle match-fixing in local sports and protect the finances of Albanian households.

However, they will allow gambling in “casinos in large hotels”. Also, the national lottery and the televised bingo games also got special permission, as Reuters reports.

Famous Albanian Poker Players

Muhamet Perati sits on top of the Albanian all time money list on Hendon with $584,893 in live tournament earnings. At the 2012 WSOP, he made it to the final table in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event. He eventually busted in 7th place and won $64,414. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.

As for online poker, a player from Albania who plays under the screen name “Jetize” on PokerStars and “znachit_a” on Bwin has cashed for $424,183 in MTT’s throughout his career.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Albania –

   Live Poker Legislation in Albania

As we wrote in our intro, a 2018 law outlawed most types of gambling.

The games of chance that remain legal thanks to legal exemptions, such as bingo, lottery, and casino games in certain designated hotels, are supervised by the Autoriteti i Mbikëqyrjes së Lojërave të Fatit (Game Supervision Authority).

  Live Poker Venues in Albania

Despite the recently passed gambling ban, worldcasinodirectory.com still lists 52 licenced casinos within Albania on their website. However, most of them are no longer in operation.

But there are still a few casinos staying in business in Albania. Grand Casino Tirana, evidently located in the capital city of Tirana, does have a poker room. Unfortunately, most of the games they offer are poker game types which are played against the house, such as Ultimate Texas Hold’em or Caribbean Stud – but they do offer Texas Hold’em as well.

However, they don’t list any specific information about the game, only writing: “The world’s most popular Poker game with more tables, more tournaments, and more people to challenge than ever before. It’s Texas Hold ‘Em Poker the way YOU want to play!”.

The Albania Poker Club is also located in Tirana. They’re not very informative about their game selection either – even though they regularly post on their Facebook page. They occasionally share sporadic information about the tournaments they’ve hosted. For example, in May 2018, they held a ALL5,000 (~$50) NLHE tourney with a ALL5 million (~$50,000) guarantee.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Albania –

Grand Casino Tirana

Albania Poker Club

  Online Poker in Albania

Unfortunately, the 2018 Albanian gambling ban covers online gambling as well.

As of now, the government doesn’t block any foreign gambling sites, but there is some fear among the local poker players that they might do so at some point – after all, they have taken serious police action against live illegal gambling in the past, raiding venues and seizing machines.

However, as of now, an online poker room is only unavailable for Albanians if the site decides to restrict players from the region. So far, partypoker has done so. However, others, such as PokerStars or Natural8-GGNetwork are still accessible.