Bulgaria amends Gambling Act to dismantle regulator

The bills also splits tax revenues between sport and cultural recipients.
The bills also splits tax revenues between sport and cultural recipients.

Bulgaria’s National Assembly has approved a bill amending to the country’s Gambling Act and transferring oversight to the National Revenue Agency.

Bulgaria.- A bill amending the country’s Gambling Act has passed its second reading at Bulgaria’s National Assembly.

The bill dismantles the country’s regulator, the Gambling Commission, and transfers the regulation of all gambling activities to the National Revenue Agency.

The original proposal had envisioned replacing the Commission with a new state gambling agency, but the bill was amended to abandon that plan and pass responsibilities to the Revenue Agency.

The National Revenue Agency will take over all of the Commission’s legal duties, archives and assets, which would be wound down over three months by a cabinet-appointed liquidation commission.

The bill increases financial requirements for operators. Companies applying for a casino licence will need to declare capital of at least BGN1.5million (€767,771), while the opening of a gaming hall with slot machines will require declaration of at least BGN500,000 (€255,923). 

This part of the bill led to protests outside the parliament building in Sofia while the bill was being read, with employees fearing that the change would force small and medium-sized operators out of business.

The bill also changes the distribution of tax proceeds from gambling revenue, directing 10 per cent of tax funds to culture. That’s a move that is expected to go down poorly with sports federations that will see part of their funding carved off for cultural beneficiaries.

MPs rejected an amendment within the bill that proposed gambling in Bulgaria be limited to five-star hotels and resorts within 20km of the country’s borders, a move that would have forced more than 600 casinos to close.

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