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Poker in North Macedonia

Introduction

Population: 2,077,000

Capital: Skopje

Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)

Time Zone: UTC+1

Casinos with Poker

  • Casino Hotel Flamingo Gevgelija
  • LeGrand Casino
  • Princess Hotel & Casino

North Macedonia, as it’s officially called since February 2019 due to a naming dispute with neighboring Greece, is a small Balkan country with legal gambling, both live and online.

It was part of Yugoslavia until 1991. Yugoslavia was the only country behind the “Iron Curtain” with legal gambling – they legalized it in 1962. After Macedonia’s 1991 independence, games of chance remained legal in the region.

As of now, 5 casinos operate within the country. Up until recently, that number stood at 7 – however, sadly two of them couldn’t survive the Covid lockdowns of 2020. Naturally, most of these venues are located in the capital city of Skopje. Meanwhile, the rest is in the small town of Gevgelija, a small gambling center in Macedonia.

Online gambling is legal too – however, that market is ruled by the monopoly of the National Videolottery of Republic of Macedonia. It’s a company in which 51% of the equity is owned by the North Macedonian government, while the other 49% is owned by one of the biggest casino chains in Europe, Casino Austria.

As for poker per se, it enjoys moderate popularity in the country, far behind slot machines and sports betting in the gambling market.

Famous North Macedonian Poker Players

Aleksandar Trajkovski sits on top of Macedonia’s All Time Money List on Hendon, as of now. He has $263,867 in live tournament earnings. In July 2019, he came in 8th in the $600 NLHE MonsterStack event at the DeepStack Championship Poker Series at The Venetian in Las Vegas. He won $17,988 that day, which is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.

He also plays online under the screen name “acethemaf” on PokerStars and “nelabejbi” on the small iPoker room NetBet. He has amassed $602,522 in online MTT winnings – more than twice as much as what he won in live tournaments.

Gjorgji Chuchuk is second on the list with $146,805 in cashes. Impressively, he has ITM finishes from 4 different WSOP Main Events: from 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2017. His highest finish out of the four is 239th place (out of a field of 6,598) in 2012 for $38,453.

 

– Playing Live Poker in North Macedonia –

   Live Poker Legislation in North Macedonia

As we wrote in our intro, all types of gambling, be it casino games, sports betting or poker, are legal in the country of Northern Macedonia.

However, you need to apply for licences directly from the North Macedonian Government. And these licences cost a lot – according to Simon’s Gambling Blog, the price is a hefty €600,000.

The Ministry of Finance has a full English version of the current gambling law in place, passed in 2009 titled “LAW ON GAMES OF CHANCE AND ENTERTIANMENT (sic!) GAMES”. You can read it here. Unfortunately, they’ve misspelled the word “entertainment” in the English title.

  Live Poker Venues in North Macedonia

At the Casino Hotel Flamingo in the city of Gevgelija, the poker room has hosted multiple tournament series in the past.

They were the home to the M.I.T.O Master Italian Tournaments Omaha events in 2020, which had tournaments with buy-ins from €60 up to a €230 Main Event on their schedule. As their name suggests, all of these were Pot Limit Omaha tournaments.

They’ve also hosted their own tourney series, confusingly named the “Flamingo Poker Tour Tournament”, when in fact it was 3 different NLHE tournaments with €110, €220, and €550 buy-ins.

Their cash game room offers No Limit Hold’em on €1/€2, €2/€2, and €2/€5 stakes; and Pot Limit Omaha on €2/€2 and €5/€5 stakes.

In the LeGrand Casino, also in Skopje, you can play Texas Hold’em tournaments three nights a week: on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, starting at 7 pm. The buy-in is €25 for each of them.

You can also find a running poker room in the Princess Hotel & Casino in Gevgelija with weekly Texas Hold’em tournaments.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in North Macedonia –

Casino Hotel Flamingo

LeGrand Casino

Princess Hotel & Casino

  Online Poker in North Macedonia

As we wrote in our intro, the North Macedonian online gambling market is in the hands of the National Videolottery of Republic of Macedonia (51% state-owned, 49% owned by Casino Austria).

They run 2win.mk, the country’s only legal online gambling site. There, you can play online casino games, bet on sports, and buy virtual scratch-off lottery tickets – however, what you cannot do is play poker.

The government does make an effort in blocking foreign gambling site’s URL’s. However, since they don’t offer online poker, they’re less incentivized to go after poker sites. Also, online poker players are never prosecuted.

So, unless the poker room decides to restrict players from the region, chances are, you can play on foreign poker sites from Northern Macedonia.

So far, only partypoker and PokerStars blocked Macedonian players from their real-money games. Other major poker sites, however, such as Natural8-GGNetwork, 888, or Unibet, are accessible to them.

 


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