Currency: Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM)
Bosnia & Herzegovina is one of the only European countries without any kind of law regulating gambling nationwide. Its autonomous region, the Republic of Srpska, only passed a gambling law in early 2019.
Thus games of chance, especially sports betting, are easily accessible to anyone in the country. According to an article on balkaninsight.com, they have the highest number of betting shops per capita in Europe – 2,334 shops in a nation of 3.5 million.
That is despite the fact that the country is over 50% Muslim, and the religion of Islam forbids “maisir”, meaning gambling. The country was also under Communist rule for much of the 20th Century – that ideology also frowns upon games of chance. However, Yugoslavia – the state Bosnia & Herzegovina was part of until 1992 – was the only country behind the Iron Curtain with legal land casinos since the 1960’s.
In 2013, the Bosnian government tried to curtail gambling by blocking access to foreign gambling sites, but they abandoned their efforts after major public backlash.
Despite the many betting men and women in the country, poker doesn’t seem to be too popular. Worldcasinodirectory.com lists only 1 poker room in the country, while pokerdiscover.com lists a total of 2. Compare that to the 2,334 betting shops…
Famous Bosnian Poker Players
Ali Ismirovic is one of the regular features in high roller tournaments around the world. He has over $8 million in live tournament earnings to his name.
In 2018, he won the Poker Masters Purple Jacket. It’s an award given to the player who gave the best overall performance in the annual high roller series featuring the very best poker players in the world. His biggest live tournament score is from September 2019. He came in second behind Cary Katz in the £250,000 Super High Roller Bowl London for £900,000.
Ema Zajmovic has $1.103 million in live tournament cashes. He has two ITM finishes from the WSOP Main Event: a 929th place for $15,000 from 2006 and a 215th place for $49,335 from 2018.
Alen Bilic, who plays under the screen name “lilachaa” on PokerStars, has cashed for more than $2.9 million in online MTT’s during his career. He also has an additional $626,000 in live tournament winnings. In October 2015, he finished second in the €5,000 EPT Main Event for €440,000 in Malta.
– Playing Live Poker in Bosnia & Herzegovina –
Live Poker Legislation in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina is one of the only countries in Europe without any kind of nationwide gambling legislation in effect. There’s no licencing or regulating body.
In the Republic of Srpska, the autonomous region comprising about half of the country and mostly inhabited by ethnic Serbians, passed a gambling law in early 2019 called Law on Games of Chance.
However, in the other half of the country, anyone is free to open up a betting shop or a casino, and evidently, the Bosnian citizens are free to play in those establishments.
Live Poker Venues in Bosnia & Herzegovina
In the capital city of Sarajevo, the Coloseum Club is located. They have a so-called “VIP Cash Room” where you can play No Limit Hold’em cash games. However, they do not disclose the stakes on their website, you need to inquire about those via phone or email.
The other venue on pokerdiscover.com is the Grand Casino in the city of Banja Luka. Usually, you can only play Ultimate Texas Hold’em or Caribbean Poker in the venue – versions of poker in which you play against the house, not the other players like in the classic Texas Hold’em.
However, they occasionally host a poker festival. In March and September 2019, for example, they were home to the Grand Poker Series. It’s a tournament series with a €75 Main Event.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Bosnia & Herzegovina –
Online Poker Legislation in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Online gambling is in the same unsettled state as land based gambling in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The 2019 Law on Games of Chance, passed in the Republic of Srpska, covers internet betting as well. It describes the requirements for obtaining a licence – private and foreign companies can apply as well.
However, in practice, online gambling sites are easy to access across the whole country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. The authorities don’t block websites for online poker rooms, and almost no online poker room restricts Bosnian players.
Coloseum Club is an entertainment club, including the largest casino in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is part of a casino chain and open 24/7.