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Kosovo bans gambling after casino murders 02/04/19
• Prime minister Ramush Haradinaj implements 10-year ban in attempt to cut crime

Kosovo has banned all gambling for the next decade in an attempt to crack down on crime after two casino staff were murdered last week.

Betting, particularly on sport, has become hugely popular in recent years in Kosovo, where about a third of its 1.8 million people are unemployed.

Speaking to parliament, which passed the bill late on Thursday, the prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, said the measure was aimed at “strengthening public security”.

“We will not allow these venues to be arenas of crime that claim people’s lives,” he wrote later on Facebook.

A police officer has been arrested as a suspect in one of killings, which took place earlier this month in two separate casinos within days of each other.

Before the ban, the police boarded up most of the 470 gambling venues in Kosovo.

The government takes in €20m (£17m) annually through taxes on gambling.

Earlier this week, Haradinaj said only a state-controlled lottery would be allowed to operate. “It is total chaos, a total abuse and it is good that we are stopping this,” he told a press conference.

The gambling industry has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. The Gambling Association of Kosovo said it employed 4,000 workers. Ruzhdi Kosumi, who owns 14 gambling shops, said 40 of his workers would be left jobless.

“The decision to close us was taken after two of our workers were killed. This is nonsense. We lost people and now we are losing our jobs,” Kosumi told Reuters.

Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with political instability, crime and corruption putting off investors.

Neighbouring Albania banned gambling in January in an attempt to tackle organised crime and social problems, such as addiction and poverty.

Albania’s parliament passed a law last year, banning sports betting and other forms of gambling from the start of 2019 in a bid to tackle addiction among gamblers and match-fixing in sports competitions, while also protecting household finances.

At one time there were 50 casinos operating in Tirana but currently there's only one. The government's decision has shut more than 4,000 shops, made 8,000 people unemployed, while the loss of revenue to the state is $51 million dollars a year.

Still, traditional practices are popular, and the betting association expects illegal gambling to carry on despite the ban.