Bulgaria plans to advance with Sports Totalizator privatisation

Bulgaria is to hold elections on October 2.
Bulgaria is to hold elections on October 2.

The government is expected to include Bulgaria’s state-owned lottery and betting company in a raft of privatisations despite opposition.

Bulgaria.- The Bulgarian government reportedly plans to press on with a planned privatisation of six major public bodies, including the state-owned lottery and betting operator. The Bulgarian Sports Totalizator (BST), which operates the Toto BG brand, will become a joint-stock enterprise.

The decision is likely to prove controversial because funds would no longer de directly deducted by the Sports Ministry to fund sports in schools, something that has been one of the objectives of the state-run body since it was founded in 1957. It transferred around BGN 42m (€21.5m) to the ministry last year and paid a similar amount to the state in licensing fees.

The move would also require changes to legislation because some verticals like instant lotteries can only legally be run by the state.

Sports minister Radositin Vasilev has previously argued that privatisation of the BST would be “practically impossible”.

He said: “The method of distribution will change. We have to amend the Gambling Act, the Tote Law itself, and the Commercial Act. At the moment it shouldn’t be a commercial enterprise.”

The proposed privatisation is also likely to meet opposition from the ITN Party, which recently put forward a draft bill that would allow Toto BG‘s sales network to be doubled from 1,500 points of sale to 3,000 in order to raise more funds to support sports and cultural initiatives.

The proposed privatisation also comes amid a political crisis in Bulgaria, with president Rumen Radev having called a snap election for October 2 due to prime minister Kiril Petkov‘s inability to form a coalition government.

Swedish opposition proposes sale of Svenska Spel

Earlier this year, the right-of-centre Moderata Party announced plans to sell off Sweden’s state-controlled gambling operator Svenska Spel if it wins the country’s general election in September. It has submitted a provisional mandate to Sweden’s national legislature, the Riksdag, proposing the division and sale of the company.

The party, which has formed a four-party right-wing alliance to contest the elections on September 9, announced the move as part of its plans to overhaul Sweden’s gambling legislation, currently governed by the 2019 Gambling Act. Other changes would include constitutional provisions to require the government to obtain approval from the legislature to change gambling laws in the future “due to abuse of power during the past term of office”.  

See also: OPAP divests its stake in Betano

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