The traditional European gambling markets are getting saturated and therefore the gambling operators are looking out for new areas. One such area that they are watching very closely are the Balkan countries of East Europe. The Balkan countries consist of Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, and Bulgaria. The reasons that the Balkans are expected to show potential for gambling are an existing gambling market estimated at €4.5 billion, above average popularity of gambling, a population of 130 million people and the impending membership to the European Union of many of the Balkan countries. The Media & Entertainment Consulting Network (MECN) has compiled a detail report on the markets. The report is titled “The Balkan Gambling Markets” and some salient features are reproduced below.

The total wagering turnover has been estimated at €25 billion. After deducting the payout of prizes the revenue of the local gambling operators has been estimated at €4.5 billion. The revenues of foreign online gambling operators have been estimated at €520 million, making the total gambling revenue over €5 billion. These are the estimates for the year 2007.

The real interest of this area lies in its growth potential. More than 60% of the respondent experts of the MECN survey opined that the Balkans had a great growth potential. Only 3% of the experts said that the growth potential was small. The reason cited for high growth is that though the Internet penetration is significant it is well below the European average. At 43 million Internet users the penetration is about 36%. As the penetration levels increase more people will be exposed to online gambling and the gambling turnover will increase. Another reason for the expected high growth is that the Balkan countries are expected to liberalize their gambling markets to benefit from taxation of gambling revenues. The liberalization will also lead to increased gambling.

The market structure in the smaller Balkan countries, like Croatia, Serbia, and Romania, is competitive. Here the local gamblers prefer to patronize the local gambling operators because they get good service and therefore foreign online operators are able to secure only 1% to 3% of the market. However in the larger countries, like Greece and Turkey, the local gambling markets are monopolistic and the people use the services of foreign Internet gambling operators to a large extent. The prominent sector of both land and Internet gambling is sports betting and this will drive the gambling markets in the future. Lotteries and casino gambling will have a much smaller potential.

The MECN report has been prepared in December 2008 and costs €775. It is a very comprehensive report that gives details country wise and within each country gambling sector wise.