Bulgaria set to amend gambling law

Bulgaria is set to change the way it taxes the gambling industry with a bill of amendments tabled in Parliament on November 13, which would bring the country’s legislation closer to international practices and put an end to the blacklisting of online gambling operators.

The bill was tabled by 11 MPs from the two parties in Bulgaria’s ruling parliamentary axis, which has enough seats in Parliament to ensure that the amendments are passed. The bill was not included on Parliament’s agenda this week and it is unclear when it would be up for debate on the parliamentary floor.

The key provision of the bill is changing the way gambling is taxed – replacing the 15 per cent tax on gambling revenues with a one-off licensing fee of 100 000 leva (about 50 000 euro) and a 20 per cent tax on the “difference between the bets made and the winnings paid out”.

Online gambling operators have decried, in the past, Bulgaria’s taxation of gambling revenues, saying that it made operations in Bulgaria unprofitable. This has been the main reason for the reluctance of foreign gambling operators to register in Bulgaria, reports in Bulgarian media said.

That, in turn, has prompted Bulgaria’s Gambling Commission to blacklist dozens of gambling websites, requesting by court order that Bulgarian internet service providers cut access to such websites.

The move has not prompted a wave of license registration applications and its efficiency has been questioned, given that geolocation-based online restrictions can be bypassed with relative ease.

Instead, Bulgaria now appears on course to adopt an approach that is used by many other countries, one that online gambling operators appear to endorse, according to a report in Bulgarian news website Mediapool.bg on November 14.

The report quoted Sue Rossiter, head of projects and policy at the London-based Remote Gambling Association (RGA) – which claims to be one of the largest trade associations in the online gambling industry, with some of the largest online operators among its members – saying that the RGA backed the proposed amendments.

Should the bill be passed by Parliament, European online operators would apply for Bulgarian gambling licenses and pay taxes in Bulgaria for their operations in the country – precisely the outcome that Bulgarian authorities have targeted for years but have been unable to achieve so far.

(Photo: Kevin van der Draai/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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