For many years, the Serbian government paid no attention to online gambling. There were no laws to allow or prohibit gambling on the internet, and there were no regulatory bodies to oversee local internet gambling sites.
Now, all that is beginning to change. Last week, Serbian police arrested two men in Belgrade – they are suspected of being involved with the operation of an unlicensed internet betting website. In a statement released by Serbia’s Interior Ministry, it was said that these are the first arrests in relation to internet gambling in Serbia.
The illegal gambling site was in fact an online sportsbook. It is believed that the site has been operating since 2005, and has earned its operators in excess of 55 million dinars ($750,000). The site offered bets on football, basketball, tennis and hockey matches in Europe and North America. Because the website was unregistered, and because the men dealt with credit cards and offshore banks, they paid no taxes on their profits.
During the raid on the illegal sports betting operation, police seized about €60,000 in cash, several computers, and two cars.
The reason for the raid is not so much that the men were running an online sportsbook in Serbia; instead, the problem is that they ran it without a license. Sports betting is legal throughout Serbia, but any group that offers wagers must be licensed and must pay taxes on their profits. The Interior Ministry stated that they are beginning to crack down on unlicensed gambling operators, so this may be the first of many such busts.
Serbs interested in gambling online are better off using foreign-based services. Since the government does not offer online gambling licenses, all local sites are operating illegally. Foreign sites, however, lie beyond the reach of the Serbian government, and are much safer for players. The only downside is that very few international sites offer services in the Serbian language.