The gambling business in Bulgaria is allowed and is actively developing, despite the difficult economic situation. The corresponding license for gambling is issued by the State Committee for Gambling. At the moment, the most common practice in the gambling market in Bulgaria is the organization and sale of land-based casinos. The country regulates both offline and online gambling activities. The most popular among Bulgarian players are slot machines, including the products of the domestic supplier Casino Technology. Since 2011, sports betting, horse racing, and online poker have been officially allowed in the country.
The gambling business in Bulgaria has existed for about 30 years. The country’s first casino, which opened in 1979 in Sofia, was named Vitosha. It was located in the hotel of the same name. Over time, gambling establishments appeared in the resort towns of the Black Sea. The entrance to the country’s first casinos was open only to citizens of those countries that were not part of the socialist bloc.
Gambling legislation (“Peculiarities of gambling business regulation”) of the country
In 1989 Bulgaria moved to a market economy, which also influenced the gambling business. On the one hand, it began to develop, and on the other hand, many semi-legal establishments with poor service and dubious quality of services appeared in the country. This led to the fact that the authorities and business representatives began to work on the development of rules for the regulation of the gambling industry. As a result, from 1993 to 1999, a decree was in force that regulated the work of land-based casinos, bingo, and lotteries. And in 1999, the Law on the Regulation of the Gambling Business was adopted. It operates with various amendments to this day.
Basic points of the law:
- the main task of the government is to close access to gambling business to representatives of criminal structures. Accordingly, the list of persons who are not issued appropriate licenses includes convicts, violators of tax laws, bankrupt citizens and organizers of underground gambling;
- potential owners of a casino in Bulgaria must have a minimum capital of 500 thousand BGN / 286 thousand USD;
- foreigners wishing to open a gambling establishment in the country are required to manage a four-star hotel. An alternative option for citizens from other countries is to invest USD 10 million in the Bulgarian economy and create 500 jobs. Such requirements for foreign entrepreneurs are related to the desire to protect the Bulgarian gambling business. However, this rule does not apply to companies that are registered in the EU;
- government agencies in Bulgaria also have the right to open a gambling business, the proceeds of which should go to the development of the sports, health, educational, cultural and social spheres of the country;
- it is forbidden to place gambling houses in government buildings;
- advertising of gambling in the media is prohibited;
- The Bulgarian gambling law provides for the creation of a special regulatory body, which is the State Commission on Gambling. It is part of the Ministry of Finance. Accordingly, only holders of a special license from this commission have the right to gambling.
Membership in the organization is provided exclusively to citizens of Bulgaria with higher education, preferably legal, and must also have work experience in the field of jurisprudence of at least 5 years. Another requirement for the representatives of the commission is the lack of interests in the gambling field.
The State Commission on Gambling issues, revokes or suspends a license to conduct gambling activities, controls the work of gambling companies, conducts appropriate inspections, and monitors that taxes from the gambling business go to the state treasury. The cost of the license of the State Gambling Commission of Bulgaria does not include the examination of documents. Online casinos that lack permission from this organization are blocked and blacklisted.
Requirements for offline gambling halls:
- according to the legislation of the state, in cities where more than 50,000 people live, the gaming hall must have at least 20 slot machines. If the institution is located in a city with a smaller number of residents, it must have at least 10 slots;
- the minimum area for one gaming machine is two square meters;
- the casino must have at least five gaming tables. There should be at least 2 roulette tables. The authorities of the country believe that in this way they will be able to protect the gambling market from the spread of small gambling establishments, whose activities are difficult to regulate;
- the average return percentage of slot machines must be at least 80 percent. Games must undergo regular quality checks by the Gambling Commission;
- play houses should be located more than 300 meters from schools and educational institutions;
- owners of gambling houses and online casinos are prohibited from producing and supplying gambling content;
- gambling houses are prohibited from giving loans to visitors;
- the entrance to the casino is strictly prohibited for minors, drunk people, persons in uniform (if they do not fulfill their official duties), citizens without documents. Players are also prohibited from bringing weapons to the casino;
- representatives of the gambling business, casino employees and their relatives are not allowed to participate in gambling;
- visitors are paid winnings in BGN. The exceptions are those gambling houses that have received permission to use foreign currency.
Despite the strictness of the above rules, they contribute to the development of the gambling market in Bulgaria, while at the same time preventing the creation of small illegal gambling establishments.
To obtain a license, the State Gambling Commission must submit an application and a list of documents, including those confirming the registration of the company, a police clearance certificate, financial condition, permission to open a gambling establishment of all owners of the premises, which is confirmed by a notary, documents that confirm the origin of the gambling equipment and its quality.
An application for an initial license is reviewed within 60 days. The license is valid for 5 years from the date of receipt.
Since 2012, the tax on gambling business in the country has been 7%. But in 2013, the tax was increased to 15%. The initiator of this was the then Minister of Finance Simeon Dyankov. This initiative was supported by the parliament. After that, tax collection from gambling activities in 2014 increased by 120 BGN. In parallel with this, the authorities decided to check the gambling sites.
Bulgarian land-based casinos
Land-based casinos are evenly distributed throughout the country. Many of them are located in resort towns. The list of the most popular gambling establishments in the country includes London Club in Sofia, Royale Palms Casino in Burgas, Black Sea and Casino Hotel Oceanic in Varna. In the casinos of Bulgaria, the most common games are slot machines, roulette, cards, craps. As a rule, there is no strict dress code in casinos. However, uniformed players are not allowed to enter. A pass to gambling houses is available only for persons with identity documents.
Online gambling in Bulgaria
The online gambling license is also issued by the State Commission on Gambling (SCG). According to the legislation of Bulgaria, the operator must be located on the territory of the state. Sites that operate in the country are blocked without the permission of the organization.
A complete list of sites licensed from the State Gambling Commission of Bulgaria can be found on the official website of the organization.
Bulgarian online casino customers prefer sports betting, slots, especially from Casino Technology, poker, as well as table games.
A well-known Bulgarian provider of gambling software for offline and online casinos is Casino Technology. Previously, the manufacturer was known as Megajack. The company was founded in 1999. The main office of the manufacturer is located in Sofia. Casino Technology offices are located in more than 15 countries around the world. The company employs over 1,500 employees. The company has repeatedly received awards at the International Gaming Awards, Global Gaming Awards, BEGE, Peru Gaming Show.
Now the developer’s portfolio includes more than 50 video slots. The company’s games are distinguished by simple rules, convenient usability, and various topics. There are often 5 reels and bonus rounds in each slot machine. The supplier’s most popular products are Cat Queen, Power of Ankh, 40 Shining Jewels, American Gigolo, Australian Magic, Bavarian Forest, Beetle Star. Most slots have a demo mode, which makes it possible to try the games for free.
In Bulgaria, the licensees from the State Committee for Gambling have the right to gambling activities in the land-based and online segments. According to the legislation of the country:
- gambling business owners should regularly check the quality of the software. The check is carried out by the Gambling Commission;
- advertising of gambling is prohibited;
- sites without a license are blacklisted;
- gambling income tax is 15%.
Despite the strictness of the rules of the Law on the Regulation of the Gambling Business, the gambling industry is developing in the country. Land-based casinos are actively visited by both locals and tourists. Products from the domestic software provider Casino Technology are in the greatest demand among visitors to online portals.