Bulgaria Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in Bulgaria

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in Bulgaria
  • Gambling authorities in Bulgaria
  • Online casinos in Bulgaria
  • and more

Flag of BulgariaThe gambling industry in Bulgaria has been having some difficulties for quite a long time now. The situation has not only been changed, but it has been even made worse than ever.

Casinos and gambling were not allowed in the country until 1993. When it comes to online gambling, a process of liberalization of the market was started in 2008, when Bulgaria began the submission of draft legislation to the European Commission for approval.

Overview

Gambling in Bulgaria has gone a long way over the past decades. Gambling was proclaimed as illegal in the country until 1993, although in the period between 1989 and 1993 there was a special regime for casinos. The latter were only located in hotels, which accommodated a lot of foreigners. In addition, there was no gaming regulation, and the market suffered seriously due to low quality and low payout percentage.

As mentioned above, gambling was not legal in Bulgaria until 1993. The same applied to most countries located in Eastern Europe. However, over the time when casino and gaming operations were not permitted in the country, the black market flourished. After gambling legalization, casinos, bingo halls and a lottery became popular throughout the country.

Gambling operations were officially defined as legal by a Government decree, which also set the legal age to gable at 18 years.

The Gaming Law of Bulgaria was introduced half a decade later, in 1998. Fifteen years later, the Government became primarily focused on online gambling legislation. A new tax on turnover was implemented, and a gambling website blacklist was started.

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A great deal of large operators were included in the blacklist, which increased to a total of more than 170 names in November. However, the European Union and the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) pressed the country to change its policy related to gambling. This resulted in the licences costs’ reduction and shrinking the gambling website blacklist.

According to the Gaming Act, gaming equipment was allowed to be operated by licensed facilities only. Casino and gambling venues were prohibited to be located in less than 300 metres of a school or university. In addition, people dressed in military uniforms were not allowed enter the casinos.

Relevant Legislation

Gambling Legislation in BulgariaAs mentioned above, the Bulgarian Government got around to issuing licenses with the Gaming Law from 1998. In addition, a taxation system for local gambling operators was introduced.

The Parliament of the country passed the new Bulgarian Gambling Law in the beginning of March 2012. It was published in the State Gazette on March 29th, and came into effect on July 1st of the same year. The law was intended to provide operators with official permission to obtain a gaming license on the territory of Bulgaria and operate their gambling activities legally in the country. The direct advertising of online gaming activities is prohibited by law.

The requirements for casinos and gaming operations carried out on the territory of the country were announced in the Gaming Law, which as mentioned above, introduced a licensing and taxation system. The Gaming Control Commission was created by the authorities in order to take care of the gaming industry regulation.

According to the Gaming Law, gaming equipment was allowed to be operated only by facilities that have been licensed by the competent authorities.

The Gaming Act regulates the conditions and procedures that are related to the organization of gambling games, as well as to activities related to such games. The procedures of issuing, extending, revocation and termination of gambling licenses are also subjected to the Gaming Act.

The law points out the organizers of gambling games and activities on the territory of Bulgaria. According to it, such activities are allowed to be carried out by companies that are registered in the Republic of Bulgaria or in another member state of the European Union, another state that is part of the European Economic Area Agreement, or the Swiss Confederation.

In addition, non-profit legal entities are also allowed to carry out such games, as long as they are registered under the conditions of the Non-profit Legal Entities Act, registered in another member state of the European Union, etc.

The companies that organize gambling activities within the boundaries of the country are required to meet certain conditions. The licensing procedure is also carried out under some requirements imposed by Gaming Law, which need to be simultaneously covered.

Slot Machines in Bulgaria

There are a lot of gaming machines that are placed outside the casinos in special gaming arcades. Some versions contain up to 50 machines, but usually there are 10 to 20. the most popular games found in the gaming arcades are the ones featuring video reels. A total of about 6,000 are estimated to be available for play on the territory of Bulgaria.

Owners of casino and gaming facilities located in cities where there are less than 30,000 people, are allowed to have at least 10 slots at a certain facility. In cities with population larger than 30,000 people the minimum of slots is set at 20.

Online Gambling

Gambling Legislation in BulgariaThe online gambling operations in Bulgaria were not allowed in the country for quite a long time. In 2007, the Government started thinking about some measures against the potential tax money flowing out of the country thanks to the fact that local players were placing bets via gambling websites hosted abroad.

The truth is that the Bulgarian Government has been trying to come out with a workable regulatory scheme when it comes to online gambling. It was not only the taxation rates, which turned out to be the only troublesome issues.

Online gambling was officially legalized in Bulgaria in February 2008 under the initiative of the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance. The detailed regulations on the matter were enacted four years later – in 2012.

The country granted an online gaming licence to PokerStars by the State Gambling Commission in February 2014. The website was officially launched in August on the following year.

Currently, one of the biggest online gambling operators in Bulgaria prefers to stick around the monopoly on sports betting, which has been imposed by the country’s Government itself. Both sportbook and a lottery are featured by the website Sports Totalizator, which gives away 50% of its proceeds in order to support local sports teams.

Heavy taxation was imposed to online gambling operators and more specifically, on their turnover, from January 2013. Turnover generated by online casino operations was taxed at a 15% flat rate. On the other hand, unlicensed operators’ websites were added in the blacklist and blocked from March 2013.

Still, there were ambitions of attracting more online gambling operators to Bulgaria by creating a tax regime that is more realistic. The Bulgarian Gambling Reform Bill managed to pass its second reading in Parliament in December 2013. It was decided that a one-off license fee that amounts to a total of BGN100,000 will replace the 15% tax on gambling revenue.

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