Macedonian Slot Operators Unify
After many years of trying the Macedonian gaming industry has finally formed a trade association, APIS, which at the moment comprises only slot operators, but has plans to expand to casinos and betting shops in the future. The members of the association together account for around 90% of the slot machine market. The owner of the largest casino, Flamingo, also supports the association and has a representative on its board through his other business, slot machine chain Senator. The association’ Board consists of a Chairman and four representatives of the largest slot halls, out of a dozen currently operating in the market.
The forming of the association happened at a turning point for the Macedonian industry, at a time when the new law has already passed the Parliament and the secondary legislation is being drafted. The new law is to be implemented from September 2011.
The association gives a single voice to the industry, which until now was restricted to individual lobbying of the operators with individual agendas. The newly formed association has immediately begun negotiating with the Government, with the first meeting scheduled for 12 May.
One of the main changes in the new law is the introduction of the online system for land based operators which will now be connected directly to the regulator. Two of the leading four slot machine operators already have internal online systems and would not need to make many adjustments, while the third operator has their own system which would need adjusting.
The new law will also make the land based industry more forthcoming to new operators with lower capital, as it seems that in the future one licence will allow the opening of an unlimited number of halls, whereas the incumbent operators pay a licence fee, as well as taxes, based on a number of locations and gaming devices.
The new legislation also aims to open the Internet gambling market. Provisions for it are already included in the current law, but despite that, no licenses have been issued. GBGC expects the new law to be more viable for interested operators, but at the same time, it is unlikely that the market will attract much interest, given its small size (total population of around 2.1 million people) and low broadband penetration. The market is likely to be interesting only to largest local land based operators, if they are allowed to target local population, which the current law does not allow.