Montenegro might not be the largest or most populated country in southeastern Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, or even the Mediterranean – but its fame spreads throughout the world thanks to its strategic location with beautiful beaches, ancient villages, illustrious mountains, freezing lakes, lithified sediment hills, and seaside churches.
When it comes to gambling, the Montenegrin market – though rather small – is still very intriguing. Read on to learn more about the history of gambling in Montenegro as well as all of the casinos available here.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Montenegro:
Maestral Resort and Casino
Merit Casino Montenegro
Merit Casino Royal Splendid
Similar to the casino market, most gambling activities do not have much of a history in Montenegro as it is in other Balkan countries such as Serbia and Romania. Originally, Montenegro was part of Yugoslavia before merging with Serbia as the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. In the 1960s as part of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, gambling was determined to be a legal activity exclusively for the government to raise funds for social development and charitable purposes.
While local and foreign operators emerged in other constituent republics, there were no casinos or any major gambling facilities in Montenegro at the time. Fast forward to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, the country still had a virtually nonexistent gambling industry. The legalization and regulation of the gambling industry headlined controversies in the early 2000s, and in 2004 the Parliament of the Republic of Montenegro adopted the Law on Games of Chance on July 28th.
The law was signed into effect just two days later and it divided gambling into special games of chance and lottery games of chance. While the former include casino games, gaming machines, and other forms of betting, the latter consists of all kinds of sports pools and lottery, toto, keno, and bingo games.
On May 21, 2006, an independence referendum was held with a threshold of 55% — set by the European Union — to decide whether Montenegro should stand alone or continue being attached to Serbia. Luckily, the threshold was reached with an extra 0.5% as results were confirmed 10 days later. Therefore, the country gained independence as the Republic of Montenegro, which was declared on June 3rd of that year by the Parliament of Montenegro. The authorities simultaneously decided to update all existing Montenegrin laws.
As a result, an updated Law on Games of Chance came into effect in 2006 to attract local and foreign investors and build a lucrative gambling market. Yet, the gambling industry was very unattractive to operators and investors as the imposed tax rates were unfairly high.
Concurrently, the authorities assigned the Ministry of Finance as the overseer of all gambling activities and facilities. The Ministry established an administrative regulatory body called the Uprava Za Igrena Srecu (Administration for Games of Chance) for the assigned functions. The administration handles the licensing, regulations, quarterly auditing, taxation, and everything in-between.
According to the Law on Games of Chance and regulations specified on the Administration’s website, the recognised and legal gambling facilities in Montenegro are betting shops, casinos, and slot machine clubs. The website lists slot machines, betting, casino games, tombola, and other devices and tables as the gambling activities the Administration oversees. Hence, lottery and lottery-related games seem to be out of its scope.
Seeing how effective the gambling industry of each country was contributing to its funds, tourism, economy, and international recognition, online gambling was legalized in 2011. The Administration for Games of Chance was vested with the task of issuing licenses to online casino operators and other functions. The online gambling licenses were initially regarded as international licenses, considering the fact that online gambling operators licensed in Montenegro could also operate in other territories throughout the world.
Thanks to the unique online gambling regulations, the Montenegrin gambling market witnessed an impressive growth as foreign companies entered the market. This continued until the majority of financial institutions and payment processors stopped processing the transactions of gambling operators licensed in Montenegro. This led to many operators abandoning the Montenegro market and potential operators lost interest as gambling consultants started advising them to apply for a license in other countries like Malta. Additionally, players began avoiding gambling operators licensed in Montenegro. To buttress the setbacks, the UK Gambling Commission does not list the Montenegrin license on its whitelist.
Today, both online and land-based gambling markets are considerably small in Montenegro and they generate revenues not worth mentioning. Meanwhile, casinos have been in operation since the early 2000s but most are closed because of the unbearable, strangely increasing tax rates.
As discussed above, casinos are legal in Montenegro as well as a number of other forms of gambling. There are currently only three casinos in the country, governed by the Administration for Games of Chance and subjected to the Law on Games of Chance and other applicable laws.
Pertaining to these gambling facilities, each casino is equipped with a wide variety of gaming machines and table games. The ambience and environment are delivered with the adjectives friendly, luxurious, and pleasant in mind. Each casino has a VIP room for more elegant services and a separate room for organizing poker tournaments.
Montenegro is a pseudo melting pot, considering the diversity of languages and tribes. In fact, only 37% of the whole population announced the official language, Montenegrin, at the 2011 census while 42% declared they speak Serbian. Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian are also widespread—but unfortunately, languages such as English, Italian, French, and German have meagre speakers.
Further, the Euro is the official currency of Montenegro. The use; however, is not completely supported by the European Union because Montenegro has its membership status as a candidate country. Until the country eventually joins the EU (which is expected to happen soon), foreigners can only use or exchange banknotes issued by the Bank of England or the European Central Bank because the Central Bank of Montenegro has no issuing function.
While Merit Casino Montenegro is located in the heart of the capital city of Podgorica, Merit Casino Royal Splendid and Maestral Resort and Casino are situated in Budva, one of Montenegro’s oldest towns.
Maestral Resort and Casino is the largest casino in the country. It features a total of 92 gaming machines and 18 gaming tables. Respectively, there are 64 and 54 gaming machines and 15 and 12 gaming tables in Merit Casino Royal Splendid and Merit Casino Montenegro.
All the three casinos in Montenegro are separately attached to large five-star hotels and offer more than games of chance. Maestral Resort and Casino is a hotel itself in the Aman Sveti Stefan islet. Merit Casino Montenegro and Merit Casino Royal Splendid are located in Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora (previously known as Hotel Crna Gora) and Splendid Resort Hotel respectively.
Players have access to luxe rooms, suites, restaurants, bars, spas, entertainment, and many more amenities at Montenegro casinos. In addition to a wide variety of slot machines by world-class providers (such as WMS, Atronic, and Merkur), games provided include Punto Banco, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker, Electronic Roulette and Maestral Poker (in Maestral Resort and Casino).
Moving to lotteries, Montenegro is one of the very few countries without a state monopoly on lottery games. Still, the joint-stock company Lutrija Crne Gore (Lottery of Montenegro) is the only licensed lottery operator in the country, which organizes games offline via its numerous sales points across the country and broadcasts on TV 777. It offers Lotto (7/21, 7/33, 7/36, 7/39, and 7/41), Toto, Sportska Prognoza, Lucky Balls, Novogodisnji Tombolino, Novogodisnji Extra Loto 7/21, and Instant Lutrija.
Poker and bingo games are not so popular in Montenegro as there are no bingo halls or poker clubs. For poker; however, many games are available in the three casinos. Reportedly, bingo and keno games are provided by the Lottery of Montenegro. But, the operator’s website does not state any form of game related to either keno or bingo.
When it comes to sports betting, Montenegrins greatly bet on football, water polo, volleyball, basketball, and handball events. There are betting shops spread across the regions where punters can bet on the aforementioned sports and many other. In contrast, pari-mutuel betting is almost nonexistent — mainly because there are no horse racetracks or racinos in the country. However, betting shops do offer betting on horse and greyhound races.
Lastly, online gambling is legal and even encouraged by the Montenegrin government. Everything from online casino and online lottery to online sports betting, online bingo, and online poker are perfectly allowed. Interestingly, the authorities do not prosecute locals and tourists for gambling on offshore websites without a Montenegrin license.
– To gain access to a casino, you must be 18 years of age or older.
– According to Google, The Queen of Montenegro and Merit Casino Avala have been reported to be permanently closed.
– In addition to casinos, Montenegro allows other facilities to offer slot machines. For one, Win Casino and Night Club is an exquisite nightclub which offers varieties of drinks and a wild nightlife—in a small town called Tivat—with more than 40 slot machines and electronic roulette machines. Similarly, Casino Pasha – Restaurant & Lounge Bar Cattaro is a restaurant in Škaljari with over 40 slot machines by Merkur, Novomatic, WMS, etc. The restaurant features diverse jackpots ranging from €50 (Mini Jackpot) to €61,500 (Mega Jackpot). Lastly, Kings Casino is a slot machine club chain by Kings Travel, which provides players with slot machines and electronic roulette machines in diverse locations: one in Pljevlja, six in Podgorica, one in Kotor, one in Bijelo Polje, two in Berane, one in Rožaje, one in Bar, one in Budva, and one in Ulcinj.
– In 2006, the popular spy film Casino Royale (in the James Bond film series) was filmed at Merit Casino Royal Splendid.
– Pertaining to Bitcoin gambling, the market is almost nonexistent in the country. There are neither any Bitcoin ATM nor local crypto exchange. Likewise, the authorities seem to have zero concerns about cryptocurrencies while the citizens do not use, trade, or mine them on a large scale. However, Bitcoin gambling is still possible, considering gambling on offshore websites attracts no prosecution. Interested players can buy BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, etc. via LocalBitcoins, Paxful, and SpectroCoin as most exchanges do not support the country.
– Lutrija Crne Gore operates 20 gaming clubs known as Automat Klubovi across the country, resulting in 1180 gaming seats. In each club, players can relish a variety of 46 slot machines and 13 electronic roulette machines connected to a €10,000 maximum jackpot. Drinks are also provided without a single charge.
– On December 1, 2008, Lutrija Crne Gore founded TV 777 when the company was issued a licence by the Radio Diffusion Agency to operate a television broadcasting network. On July 21, 2011, TV 777 was granted an approval by the Agency for Electronic Media to broadcast lottery drawings and general TV programmes.
– Lutrija Crne Gore is an award-winning operator. Among others, the Global Trade Leaders’ Club presented it an international certificate for business excellence and achievements in 2006.
– According to the World Bank, about 69 percent of Montenegrins have access to the Internet as of 2016. Considering the high percentage, Montenegro could have had a flourishing online gambling market if the licence was more accepted internationally.
– There are more than 180 gambling websites accessible in Montenegro.
– The Montenegro Gaming Show is organised by Eventus International and the first-ever event will hold at the exotic Mediteran Hotel and Resort in Budva on September 11 and 12, 2018. The event is to be attended by government authorities, regulators, gambling operators and vendors, gaming suppliers and developers, lawyers, law firms, legal consultants, bookmakers, gaming consultants, financial institutions, payment processors, and other experts across the field to discuss technological developments, latest trends, gambling laws, and effective strategies.
– Established in 1960, Lutrija Crne Gore AD has 50.99 percent of its ownership to Flash and As, 42.71 percent to Sava Grbovic, and 6.30 percent to legal entities and private individual. As of late, the company allotted more than €700,000 from its created incomes for social advancements—for example, giving a perpetual guide to open establishments for mentally disabled kids and socially impaired people, and undeveloped regions.