Bulgaria: Amendments to the Law on Gambling leads to diversion of investments for millions from Bulgaria
According to a decision of the Sofia City Court, effectively from June 17 2013, a total of 22 sites for sports betting are forbidden by the State Gambling Committee. The reason is that they do not have the licence required by the Law on Gambling that entered into force last year. Among the online portals are the biggest betting sites in the world. The number of the blocked websites increases every two weeks, due to the new alternative websites that open daily. Officially the amendments, referring to hundreds of millions of leva and are not only connected with betting via the internet, but imposes an unprecedented censorship on the internet, comparable with that of countries like North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, Syria and others.
The announcement of the forbidden sites list legally is treated as notice to the gambling companies to block the access to their sites from Bulgaria or to limit the acceptance of bets.
If the access is not stopped, the committee will then address the Sofia Regional Court to announce its verdict and if the court rules a decision in favour of the regulator, the ball then swings off to the internet suppliers who will have to ban access to the quoted sites.
The paradox is that in accordance with the Law on Gambling, the sites should have licences but at the same time there is no law frame that specifies what the procedure for issuing such licences is. Because of that, though there are deposited applications for the issuing of licences for online betting from big companies, the licensing procedure cannot start for a year now as the State Committee itself has not yet prepared what is necessary for the purpose of regulations to the law.
The fact is that this situation chased away companies that invested millions in the country, while in other European countries they sponsor, for example, football teams like Manchester United, Barcelona, Milan and others.
The conclusion is that in this way the state will stimulate with tens and even hundreds of millions of leva the illegal bookmakers throughout Bulgaria, which means that hundreds of millions of tax will not be delivered to the Bulgarian treasury.
Donka Pechilkova (email@example.com)
Eurofast Global, Sofia Office
Tel: +359 2 988 69 77