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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Bulgarian bill would ban almost all forms of gambling advertising

A bill that would ban virtually all forms of gambling advertising in Bulgaria was submitted yesterday (24 April).

The bill was jointly submitted by the GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. It was introduced by Temenuzka Petkova and Yordan Tsonev.

The bill aims to amend Bulgaria’s Law on Gambling. It proposes a ban on gambling ads appearing online, on television, on the radio and in print media. Ads would also not be allowed to appear on buildings.

If the bill passes, ads would only be shown on billboards more than 100 metres from schools and on gaming halls and casino buildings.

Petkova and Tsoney also proposed a ban on accessing sites that host illegal gambling, as well as blocking payment to those sites. For sites that facilitate illegal gambling, Petkova and Tsonev stipulate a fine ranging between BGN50,000 (£21,900/€25,564/$27,419) to BGN200,000. This fine would also apply to companies that facilitate payments to illegal gambling operators.

Those who partake in illegal gambling would also face a fine of between BGN500 and BGN2,000.

Effective ban on slots in less-populated areas

The bill would also only permit slots and casino gambling in areas with a population over 5,000. Exceptions would apply to national resorts and areas no more than 30m away from roads, railways and river crossings.

Earlier this month Romania’s parliament voted to implement a similar proposal ↗. In voting in favour of Government Emergency Ordinance 82/2023, it placed a ban on slot machines in areas with a population of under 15,000. This effectively prohibited slot machines in rural areas.

Bulgaria’s bill also proposes an increase in the amount of capital that companies must have in order to apply for slot machine licences. The increase would be to between BGN500,000 to BGN750,000.

How socially responsible funds are distributed would also change, with half of the amount required to be donated by operators going to the ministry of health for gambling addiction treatment programmes.

Regulation tightening up in Bulgaria

The move to ban gambling ads in Bulgaria comes after the country has ramped up its focus on the industry in the past year. In January, its ministry of finance estimated that gambling would generate BGN200m for Bulgaria’s budget ↗.

In August last year, Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency ↗ (NRA) launched a new money laundering unit ↗ to enforce anti-money laundering requirements, such as customer verification and transaction monitoring. The unit was established following pressure from the Financial Action Task Force, a money laundering watchdog.

Under Bulgaria’s Law on Gambling, the NRA holds responsibility for the monitoring of gambling advertising. The NRA took control after Bulgaria abolished the State Gambling Commission ↗ in 2020.

Also in August, the NRA ordered operators to ban self-excluded staff from entering casinos ↗ or gambling halls.

Kaylie Pferten
Kaylie Pferten
A pilot of submersible crafts in a former life, now married to my husband David and writing about investment advice.

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