Similar to many other nations in the Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe, Serbia is remarkably known for a number of attractions. The most noteworthy attractions are its world-renowned ski resorts and hiking areas, mountains, Orthodox monasteries, fortresses, parks, and Stalinist Empire-style buildings. When gambling is the discussion, Serbia vaunts with an okay gambling industry. While it is not the most popular place in Europe for gamblers, it still has plenty to offer.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the country of Serbia.
Fair Play Casino at Hotel Kasina
Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia
The first appearance of gambling in Serbia can be linked to the 1940s – and more precisely, the days of World War II. At this time, gambling was strategically used as a means to develop the economy and the tourism industry. There were even a number of gambling facilities that operated illegally—and gambling (zdrebe) was also used to determine the division of lands amongst the locals.
During the 1940s, one of the most noteworthy aspects of this region was that Serbia was part of the now-defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the Second World War ended in September 1945, Yugoslavia as a country was desperate to stimulate the economy, industry of tourism, and its recognition amongst other countries.
As a result, the authorities of Yugoslavia decided to fully legalize gambling by introducing and eventually enacting the Law on Games of Chance in 1962. According to the law, gambling activities were cleaved into two categories: “classical games of chance” and “special games of chance.”
Activities classified as the former were operated by state-owned operators (especially lotteries) while those classified as the latter were exclusively available in casinos and slot clubs (or gaming rooms). For casinos, only foreigners were allowed to enjoy casino games or even enter the facility. For slot clubs, several slot machines were available for locals to wager on.
The law quickly prompted some foreign gambling operators to apply for gambling licenses in Serbia and other Yugoslav states. Similar to the case of Slovenia, this was how the very first casino in Serbia came into existence in Belgrade, 1964. Even though any info about the casino is hard to find anywhere, it is believed to be the first of its kind in the entire country of Yugoslavia.
By the end of the 1960s, a number of casinos and other gambling facilities have kick-started their respective operations in the regions of Serbia. In the late-1970s (finalized in 1979), the Serbian government itself took unabridged control of all gambling activities and facilities within the state.
More gambling facilities opened after the new development, but the industry soon came down when the drama of Yugoslavia’s breakup began in the 1980s. After the Yugoslav Wars and the upsurge of nationalism, Yugoslavia finally broke up on April 27, 1992, which was adverse to the smooth, gradual growth of the gambling industry in all Yugoslav states.
Particularly, Serbia was filled with a mass of gambling facilities that operated without any kind of permission. This was due to the country’s then-erratic security forces, and the majority of these illegal gambling facilities were casinos and slot clubs. Seeing this, the Serbian government stopped issuing licences and began auditing the gambling facilities that were already licensed.
Hence, the gambling industry was on hold – until the Games of Chance Act was passed in 2004. The Act was initially debated for a while and was signed after sometime to supply the government with funds. While most laws in the 1962 Law on Games of Chance were changed, the “classical games of chance” and “special games of chance” classification was intact (and still holds today); prize competitions and Internet gambling games were supplemented.
Like most countries, the already-existent State Lottery of Serbia (Državna Lutrija Srbije) was vested with the monopoly to operate classical games of chance; these are sports betting and lottery games (bingo, Keno, tombola, telephone-based lottery games, etc). In addition, the State Lottery of Serbia was the only operator allowed to offer any gambling activity on the Internet.
On the other hand, the number of special games of chance (gaming machines and table games) spiked exponentially. All operated legally, there were more than 5,000 gaming machines and 300 betting shops in Serbia prior to 2004. Shortly after the Games of Chance Act came into effect, there were more than 15,000 gaming machines and 1,700 betting shops in Serbia legally operated by almost 80 licensed operators. By 2008, taxes and fees from gambling had generated roughly €155 million.
Even though the growth was impressive, many were against the State Lottery’s monopoly. In early-2011, the New Act on Games of Chance was accepted after many controversies. On December 2 of the year, the New Act was signed and came into effect to put an end to the state monopoly, especially on online gambling. But when dug deeper, the New Act was secondarily used to raise funds for the government because Serbia’s economy was plummeting at the time.
Unfortunately, the New Act had its own setbacks. For one, offshore gambling operators were allowed to receive a licence but with very strict requirements. One of the requirements was that the operator must situate its servers and operations within the regions of the country. But despite the requirements, the Serbian gambling industry attracted more operators thanks to its super-low taxation rate of just five percent of the Gross Gaming Yield on gambling licences that are valid for 10 years.
To fight the massive illegal gambling sector, the New Act instructed banks and financial institutions to stop processing any transaction that links to an unlicensed gambling website. However, the concerned institutions refused to comply with the instruction. Also, a blacklist was established and Internet Service Providers were ordered to block unlicensed gambling websites. By 2012, there were already 70 websites blocked by Serbian ISPs, which include William Hill, Betfair, 888, and Skybet.
In addition, there can only be 10 casinos in Serbia according to the New Act. The ten casinos must be spread throughout the regions, with only Belgrade having the opportunity for two.
Double time to late-2014, an amendment to the gambling law was introduced by the Serbian government. With more than 35 proposed changes, the bill—titled the Law on Amendments to the Law on Games of Chance—was greatly geared towards touching up the limited regulations of gambling electronics and the application of electronic monitoring in gambling facilities.
In addition, operators would have to apply for each gambling activity and each operator would assign a human owner. The amendment also proposed a lab for testing servers, betting terminals, and gaming machines. Lastly, a new development to social responsibility was proposed, which would instruct operators to employ international practices to prevent problem gambling and for gambling addiction awareness. In February 2015, the bill was ultimately declined.
As stated earlier, casino gambling is legal and has been for a number of decades. Fast forward to May 2018, most casinos in Serbia have closed down for reasons only known to them. Presently, there are only two legal casinos in operation.
Moving on, the Games of Chance Administration (GCA) is the sole regulatory body in Serbia, which is a department of the Serbian Ministry of Finance (previously, the Ministry of Finance and Economy). The GCA handles everything related to gambling, including the licencing, regulations, auditing, monitoring, and taxation of all gambling activities and facilities throughout the length and breadth of the country.
With just two casinos, gambling might seem limited in Serbia—but thanks to the numerous slot clubs in the country, local and foreign players relish more than 175,000 gaming machines in the country. The casinos and slot clubs offer premium gaming entertainment in addition to sophisticated gaming machines, while casinos exclusively offer table games. Their respective services are often classified as first class because of the way they are tailored to satisfy their wide range of customers.
Apart from services, citizens of Serbia have been widely credited for being warm towards tourists. The official language is Serbian but a lot of languages are also spoken scantily: English, Hungarian, German, French, Croatian, Romanian, Italian, Ruthenian, Romany, and Slovak. And even though the official currency is the Serbian dinar (SRD), Euro is quite popular and (almost) always used online.
The two casinos in Serbia are located in the capital city of Belgrade. There are exactly 42 gaming tables and more than 230 gaming tables in the country. Fair Play Casino at Hotel Kasina is located in the heart of the capital city. It features 32 gaming machines and nine gaming tables for blackjack, poker, and roulette.
The Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia is the largest casino in Serbia. It is situated close to a boulevard of the Danube River and provides casino players with 33 gaming tables (12 for roulette, seven for blackjack, and 14 for poker) and more than 200 gaming machines.
Both casinos are situated in some of the most visited hotels in the country. The Grand Casino Beograd is situated inside Hotel Jugoslavia—which means players are open to extra hospitality services such as restaurants (Carneval Restaurant and Diva as examples), bars, accommodations (suites and single, double, triple, and quadruple rooms), the Pumpkin salon, conference halls, lounges, shops, and events. The case is similar to Fair Play Casino’s, which is at Hotel Kasina.
Since there are only two casinos, it is easier to deduce exactly what to expect in a Slovenian casino. Fair Play Casino at Hotel Kasina offers Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Classic Blackjack, and European Roulette. Concurrently, the Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia offers American Roulette, Classic Blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, Texas Hold’em, and Omaha Poker. Meanwhile, all these games are provided alongside a wide array of diverse slot machines.
Bingo, which is classified as a classical game of chance, is provided exclusively by the State Lottery. The operator operates a widely-known bingo game in land-based outlets. Meanwhile, poker is strangely non-popular in Serbia—probably because poker games are only available in casinos.
For lotteries, the State Lottery is the only operator licensed to offer such games. The operator offers Bingo, Loto, Greb greb, Pravila igara, Igraj, e-Srećka, and Srećkovo takmičenje both online and in the many land-based outlets across the country.
For racing, both horse and greyhound racing are almost nonexistent mainly because there is only one racecourse in the country. However, players can wager on both pari-mutuel and fixed-odds horse races in the racecourse and the many betting shops available across the regions. (The racecourse, Hipodrom Beograd, started on April 14, 1863.)
And speaking of betting shops, sports betting is the most popular gambling activity in Serbia. As betting shops are on the majestic scale, betting on sporting events—primarily soccer (football) and others such as basketball, volleyball, tennis, and hockey—is convenient, unlike the limited facilities for casino gambling.
When it comes to online gambling, Serbian players can gamble on licensed gambling websites—for sports betting, lottery games, and casino games. Interestingly, players can also visit some unlicensed, offshore gambling websites without any prosecution. However, players should note that there is a list that includes blocked offshore gambling websites.
– Entrance into any Serbian casino is allowed exclusively for players who are 18 years of age or older. In addition, photo ID is required; while locals can verify their identity using any government-issued ID, foreigners can only use passports.
– Both brick and mortar casinos have strict dressing codes. For one, the Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia forbids sunglasses, jackets, coats, trench coats, veils, helmets, hats, masks, or any other item that covers the face (partially or entirely). Specifically for men, flip-flops, sweatpants, three-quarter trousers, shorts, Bermuda shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals with heels and/or open toes are not allowed.
– The Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia hosts the Danube Poker Masters Series semiannually. The tournament is held in the casino’s poker arena, which has over 16 tables and live broadcasting functionality (with English as an additional language). In addition, there are several other poker festivals and tournaments such as the International Poker Tournament For Hearing-Impaired Persons (in which 20 percent of the revenue goes to charity), Winter Poker Fest, Belgrade Poker International, Hold’em Ladies, Belgrade Open (in collaboration with Israel Poker Tour), Belgrade Classic, Winter Edition, and Ladies Night.
– As reported by BBC, the State Lottery is widespread in the midst of unemployed citizens and pensioners. Also, Bingo and Loto are the most popular games—precisely, TV Bingo and Lotto 7/39.
– There are numerous slot clubs in Serbia; they—like the name implies—are gambling houses smaller than casinos, where players can play slot machines and a small amount of table games—if any. Grand Slot Club is one slot club chain with nine destinations. Slot Club Aleksandar is another prominent slot club chain; it operates facilities in 15 areas. ADMIRAL Serbia—part of the ADMIRAL Group, a brand of the NOVOMATIC Group—operates the longest list of slot clubs in Serbia. The brand operates a total of 36 clubs in 16 cities. Lastly, Vulkan operates two: King Alexander and Savsky.
– In actuality, some slot clubs can be considered casinos as they provide live games and poker as well. As a prime example, Slot Club Aleksandar – Metropol Palace Hotel offers electronic roulette and video poker games in addition to the primary slot machines.
– Prior to 2018, there were around 10 casinos in Serbia. But unfortunately, Ruski Car Casino, Sumadija Hotel & Casino, King Casino, Havana Gambling Slot Club – Slavija Hotels, Slavija Lux Hotel & Casino, Hotel Casino Tas, Eldorasi Casino, Casino Lola, Casino London, Ritzio-Belgrade, and Hotel Metropol Palace are either permanently closed or have shut down their respective casino floors.
– By 2013, there were 20 sports betting operators in Serbia with more than 1,200 betting shops.
– Concerning Bitcoin gambling, players are free to gamble using Bitcoin where accepted. Similar to most European countries, the authorities do not penalize its subjects for carrying out Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency) transactions. But in November 2014, December 2017, and January 2018, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) gave its fair warnings against the use of virtual currencies and instructed banks, authorized exchanges, and financial institutions to never trade or exchange virtual currencies because they are not legal tender. However, the cryptocurrency community of Serbia accepted the last warning almost immediately and asked for proper regulations. While the legalization of cryptocurrencies is still being debated in Serbia, there are five Bitcoin ATMs in the country; four in Belgrade and one in Novi Sad. (Fun Fact: An underage Serb made €15,000 in the last quarter of 2017 by trading Bitcoin.)
– In 2013, Serbian online bookmaker MaxBet signed a services partnership with international iGaming and sports betting software provider SBTech. This was one of the many events that helped grow the online gambling sector of Serbia.
– During the State Lottery’s period of monopoly, the operator had an online casino and poker website called Victory. After 2011, the casino was shut down.
– The State Lottery of Serbia d.o.o. is a member of the European State Lotteries and Toto Association. It offers TOTO10 and TOTO11, which are sports betting services.
– Balkan Bet is one of the popular gambling websites licensed in Serbia. The operator offers sports betting, live betting, virtual games, a casino, and a live casino. Founded in 2000, the operator also operates more than 110 betting shops in the country.
– In November 2015, the State Lottery applied for a casino licence. There have been zero news about the application ever since; probably, the application was declined.
– On July 28, 2015, the Lotto game 7 of 39 triggered a nationwide outbreak after the winning number of the draw (21) was revealed on live TV before it was drawn. In the following month, the State Lottery was scrutinised by the Police of Serbia. While many protested against this, the operator called it “pure coincidence.” Shortly, a total of 11 individuals were investigated and the head eventually resigned.
– In 2013, the Tax Administration of the Republic of Serbia reported the revenues of illegal gambling to be €6 million and about 30 percent of the whole industry.
– In 2016, the Grand Casino Beograd at Hotel Jugoslavia generated €9.4 million, which was an increase of €1.7 million compared to €7.7 million in 2014. Also, the casino recorded more than 140,000 visits during the year.
– If planning to open a gambling website in Serbia, operators are required to make a €150,000 Bank Guarantee Deposit in any Serbian bank, pay €2,500 per month for an online gambling licence, have a capital of €250,000 or more, and maintain €10,000 as the Risk Deposit.
– In 2010, a poker association in Serbia called Poker Savez Srbije became a member of the International Federation of Match Poker. The association currently has more than 1,500 bonafide members and has representatives in more than 30 large cities. The association organises the annual Serbian Match Poker Cup, which is the largest poker tournament in Serbia; more than 30 players participate, i.e. the best player from each city.
– There are gambling inspectors in Serbia—and in 2010, five were charged to court for engaging in an underground gambling circle that had made millions of Euro and owed the government millions of Euro in taxes and fees.
– Founded in 2016, CasinoClub.rs is one of the popular, newly licensed gambling websites in Serbia. The online casino—owned and operated by Digital Revolution d.o.o.—uses the CryptGenRandom function by Microsoft to generate pseudorandom numbers and guarantee fair gaming.
– Fair Play Casino at Hotel Kasina opened on February 2, 1993.
– There are more than 170 gambling websites that accept players from Serbia.