Albania: a place full of great…casinos

Who could tell that Albania has become a poker paradise?

Playing poker is now pretty easy in wonderful Albania

Card games have always been popular in Albania. Just ask anyone who has spent hours on end playing ‘Murlan’ with friends and family. But did you know that in recent years more and more card players in Albania have been trying their hand at poker? In fact, our very own Toni Sinishtaj won a poker championship in the US just last year. So yes, you could say that poker is pretty big in the Land of the Eagles right now. And so, with this in mind, we decided to take a look at the options out there for the Albanian poker-lover.

Live Casinos

Although card games have always been popular in Albania, it wasn’t until 2005 that the country got their own first fully-fledged casino. That year, the Regency Casino opened its doors, and within a few short years, the industry boomed. And now there are over 50 casinos throughout the nation. Interestingly and not very surprisingly almost half of those are located in Tirana.

The majority of casinos in the capital are open 24-hours a day, and while the Regency is often the casino most taxi drivers will take tourists to, it’s not necessarily the best of the bunch. Nevertheless, every single one of these fully-licensed casinos conforms to both local and international gaming regulations. This means that locals and tourists alike are guaranteed certain standards when they hit the tables.

While most casinos in Tirana rely on slots to make the bulk of their revenue, each has its own dedicated poker room. And surprisingly enough, these tables seem to be busy regardless of the time of day or day of the week. It seems that Albanians really have taken to poker in a big way in Tirana and across the nation.

Playing Online

Now, this is where it gets interesting. As you may have guessed, in a country with over 50 profitable casinos, there should be a pretty significant demand for an online poker provider. However, local gaming companies have yet to fully invest themselves in the world of online poker, and so it’s been left to international industry heavyweights such as Full Tilt to fill the void. And fill it they have.

Online poker is a massive pastime in Albania, with considerable numbers of players visiting poker rooms and joining online events and tournaments every week. Thanks to the government’s liberal views on online gaming, local players now have the possibility to enter international rooms and play against opponents from across the globe. Not being restricted to playing within Albanian poker rooms allows players to challenge themselves and learn different playing styles from those they are used to in Albania. Something that players in places like France and Italy are unable to do.

While casinos are seemingly everywhere, it would appear that online poker is the new craze that is taking over. Players now want to be able to play low stakes poker at home without having to pay to get into an expensive casino or drink overpriced drinks. And if we’re honest; who can blame them? Casinos are a great experience but playing poker on your phone while lounging on the sofa eating a pizza sounds like a much more relaxing way to spend a Friday evening.

Live Poker Tournaments

Unfortunately, major live poker events are pretty hard to come to Albania, and so anyone that wishes to qualify for larger European tournaments usually has to do so through online satellites. It’s quite baffling really, as there is obviously a demand for the game. If they can host tours in Barcelona and Bucharest, then why not in Tirana or Durrës?

Could we see the WPT or the EPT in Tirana?

So, as you can see despite poker being an industry in its infancy in Albania, playing poker is quite easy. Of course, this is in no small part thanks to the success of online poker. However, regardless of the popularity of its online counterpart, Albanians hope that at some day in the not too distant future, they will host a major live poker tournament here in the Land of the Eagles.

For a tourist, nothing better than having the chance to see a growing market such as Albania’s casinos. Enjoy now before it gets too crowded.


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