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Kosovo aims to ban gambling after two casino workers killed in robberies

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PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo’s government said it will ban gambling for 10 years following the deaths of two casino workers this month during armed robberies in separate towns.

After the deaths, customs officials raided dozens of gambling shops and found many of them were operating illegally. More than one hundred slot machines were confiscated.

Only a state controlled lottery will be able to operate, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said during a government session on Tuesday at which the cabinet voted to back the 10 year ban.

“It is total chaos, a total abuse and it is good that we are stopping this,” Haradinaj told a press conference. The ban proposal will now be sent to parliament for approval.

The gambling industry has grown rapidly in the past ten years. The Gambling Association of Kosovo says it now employs 4,000 workers. Ruzhdi Kosumi, who owns 14 gambling shops, said 40 of his workers will 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.

With a third of the population unemployed, Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The country of 1.8 million people declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Political instability, crime and corruption have kept investors away.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Peter Graff)

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