Kosovo has banned gambling for the next decade in an attempt to reduce crime, after the murder of two casino employees last week.
Speaking in parliament, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said the measure aims to strengthen public security.
“We will not allow these places to turn into criminal arenas that claim people’s lives,” Haradinaj wrote in a post on Facebook
The measures follow two murders that occurred in March in two different casinos in the country, just a few days apart. A police officer was arrested on suspicion of being the perpetrator of one of the two crimes.
Haradinaj proposed the law to ban gambling after the deaths and MPs passed it on Thursday, with the law coming into effect on Monday
Gambling has become a major problem in Kosovo, one of the poorest countries in Europe with an unemployment rate of over 30 percent. However, it is also a significant source of revenue for the cash-strapped government in Pristina, bringing in about 20 million euros in taxes and employing about 4,000 people.
Nevertheless, the government was left with no choice but to shut down the industry, according to Prime Minister Haradinaj.
“It is total chaos. There are abuses everywhere and stopping was the only positive solution,” he said at a press conference in the Kosovan capital.
In January, nearby Albania also banned gambling in an attempt to crackdown on organised crime and money laundering.
Some 4,300 betting shops were closed down in Albania due to the ban, which also prohibited online gambling, after Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama highlighted the industry’s connections to organised crime, with gambling houses often acting as a front for money laundering operations, he said.