Exploring the Potential of iGaming in the Balkans


5 speaks with Francesca Raniolo, Senior Business Development Executive at Enteractive about the emerging opportunities in the Balkan regions.

Rapid Growth and Market Dynamics.

The iGaming sector in the Balkan region has seen a lot of growth within the past few years. Technological advancements, regulatory changes and changes in player preferences have played an important role in this process, resulting in gambling being legalised in many countries of the Balkan Peninsula. 

The Albanian Parliament’s decision to allow online gambling in February 2024 and Bulgaria’s amendments to its gambling legislation at the beginning of 2024 highlight the region’s evolving regulatory landscape. 

Additionally, the acquisition of a 51% stake in Serbia’s MaxBet by Flutter at the end of 2023 signals a strategic move by major international operators to expand their presence in the Balkans. This investment underscores the region’s potential for growth and the increasing attractiveness of its iGaming markets.

These changes aim to attract international operators and increase revenue from the gambling industry, demonstrating the Balkan region’s growing importance in the European iGaming market.

With these markets expanding, it is crucial to understand their unique features and make use of strategic insights that can be used by operators and marketers to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. A personalised approach is particularly effective in the Balkan region, where players respond positively to content that reflects their unique gaming habits and cultural preferences.

The Balkans: A Region of Emerging Opportunities

Serbia: A Booming iGaming Market

The iGaming industry in Serbia has grown significantly, especially after there was a declaration of gambling online as legal and regulatory over the years. The Serbian Gaming Authority ensures that operators and players are working in an open and safe gaming environment. This regulatory stability has seen many local and international iGaming companies enter the Serbian market.

The Serbian online gambling market for 2022 was estimated around €300 million where sports betting took a 60% share followed by online casinos at 30%. UEFA Champions League matches along with local football leagues contribute heavily to gaming online in Serbia.

Croatia: Steady Growth with Strong Regulation

Croatia’s iGaming space is well regulated through Croatia’s Ministry of Finance. The state has focused on making sure it gets secure and fair play, attracting numerous foreign operators.

In 2022, the Croatian online gambling market recorded about €200 million turnover with sports betting and online casinos being the major forms of internet gaming there. Football and basketball are two leading sports for betting, which greatly interest Croatian players.

Bulgaria: Progressive iGaming Landscape

For the Balkans, Bulgaria is unique for its progressive approach to online gaming regulation. The State Commission on Gambling in Bulgaria ensures a competitive and transparent market. In Bulgaria, there is high demand for sports betting, particularly football, tennis and basketball.

The Bulgarian online gambling market was valued at approximately €250 million in 2022. Moreover, the country has an advanced technological infrastructure and high levels of digital literacy that are supportive to the growth of this market.

Albania: Emerging Market with Growth Potential

Still recently, Albania’s iGaming market has not been regulated quite effectively yet. Therefore, the government has been working hard to establish a comprehensive legal framework capable of attracting international operators as well as providing a safe space for players.

The Albanian online gambling market was estimated at about €50 million in 2022 with the most common form of gambling being sports betting. Football is the leading sport for betting activities in Albania resulting in significant player involvement.

Montenegro: Small but Growing Market

Montenegro’s iGaming market is relatively small but growing steadily. The country has implemented regulations to ensure a transparent and competitive market, overseen by the Montenegro Games of Chance Administration.

In 2022, the Montenegrin online gambling market was valued at approximately €30 million. Sports betting and online casinos are the predominant forms of online gambling in Montenegro, with football being the leading sport for betting activities.

Slovenia: A Well-Regulated and Mature Market

Slovenia has a well-regulated and mature iGaming market, with the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia overseeing the industry. The country has attracted several international operators due to its stable regulatory environment.

As of 2022, the Slovenian online gambling market was valued at around €100 million, with sports betting and online casinos being the main forms of online gambling. Football and basketball are the leading sports for betting activities in Slovenia, driving significant player engagement.

North Macedonia: Developing Market with High Potential

North Macedonia’s iGaming market is developing, with recent efforts to establish a more comprehensive regulatory framework. The country aims to attract international operators and create a safe and fair gaming environment.

In 2022, the North Macedonian online gambling market was valued at approximately €40 million. Sports betting is the predominant form of online gambling, with football being the most popular sport for betting activities.

Addressing the Challenge of Player Retention

As acquisition rates in these regions continue to grow, maintaining active players and addressing churn becomes increasingly crucial for operators. High churn rates can significantly impact profitability, making it essential to implement effective retention strategies.

Key Strategies for Player Retention

  • Personalised Player Experience: Leveraging data analytics to understand player preferences and behaviours can help create personalised gaming experiences. Customised promotions, tailored game recommendations, and loyalty programs can enhance player engagement and retention.
  • Enhanced Customer Support: Providing responsive and efficient customer support is vital for player satisfaction. Offering multiple channels of communication, such as live chat, email, and phone support, ensures that players can resolve issues quickly and conveniently.
  • Responsible Gambling Measures: Implementing robust responsible gambling measures, such as self-exclusion options, deposit limits, and activity monitoring, can build trust with players and promote a safe gaming environment.