Bulgarian legislators present another bill that aims to ban gambling advertising

Bulgarian MPs are making another attempt to ban gamblings ads.
Bulgarian MPs are making another attempt to ban gamblings ads.

The bill would also ban slots in small towns.

Bulgaria.- A new bill has been submitted after a parliamentary vote earlier this month rejected proposed amendments that would ban gambling advertising in the country. The new bill would also ban slots in small towns.

Introduced by Temenuzka Petkova (GERB) and Yordan Tsonev (DPS), the new bill aims to amend Bulgaria’s gambling law by banning gambling ads on television, radio, in print media, online and at most out-of-home locations. Ads would only be allowed on billboards located more than 100 metres from schools and on the buildings of gaming halls and casinos.

The bill also proposes making it illegal to access sites that host illegal gambling, and it would introduce payment blocking as an enforcement measure against such sites. Sites that facilitate illegal gambling or payments to unlicensed operators could be fined between BGN50,000 (€25,600) and BGN200,000 while those who gamble on illegal sites could be fined between BGN500 and BGN2,000.

Meanwhile, the minimum capital required for companies that apply for slot machine licences would rise to between BGN500,000 and BGN750,000. Land-based slots and casino gambling would be limited to areas with a population of over 5,000, although there would be exceptions for national resorts and areas close to roads, railways and river crossings.

While it’s unclear how many existing businesses this would affect, if any, the move echoes neighbouring Romania’s ban on rural gambling, which was recently passed by parliament. In the case of Romania, the bill bans slots at towns with fewer than 15,000 people.

Earlier this month, Bulgaria’s parliament voted against the Vazrazhdane party’s proposal for a blanket ban on gambling ads and the introduction of a minimum two-year period for gambling self-exclusion. The bill had also proposed replacing licence fees for operators with a 15 per cent tax on deposits. That would have reverted the situation to how it was in the past, but with the inclusion of land-based casinos in the same regime. Finally, the proposal would have doubled maximum payouts for land-based gambling from 5,000 (€2,000) to 10,000 levs.

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