Bulgaria is one of the EU countries where gambling activity is regulated. This article contains a brief overview of the Bulgarian market, its gambling products, laws, regulations, and licensing conditions.
Regulating authorities and legal framework
The industry in the country is regulated by the State Commission on Gambling Bulgaria. It controls the following gambling products:
- Sports/horse race betting;
- Casino gaming;
- Fantasy betting;
- Skill games;
- Social gaming.
According to the Gambling Act 2018, licensed operators are allowed to provide their gambling services for both online and land-based casinos.
Gambling activities are prohibited for persons who are under 18, as well as in municipally/state-owned buildings. The only authority issuing gambling licenses either for online or land-based operations is the State Commission on Gambling Bulgaria.
In order to operate in Bulgaria, the type of license from the state regulating body should correspond to the type of gambling activity. Besides, the permit should include the assessment report by a laboratory, which has received approval from the State Commission on Gambling.
It is not allowed for legal or physical persons to set or use the equipment for gambling and accepting bets as well as assisting the performance of unlicensed gambling organizing activities.
The sum of the required investment depends on the duration of the license period validity (from five to ten years) and the type of game. For instance, for a ten-year permit the applicant will be obliged to pay from BNG 400,000 (for gambling machines, instant lotteries or raffles) to BNG 10 million (for conventional lotteries and sports/horse race betting).
Concerning iGaming operation, the applicant’s gambling software must receive approval from the State Commission after an authorized laboratory provides the results of its analysis.
The application fees might be from BNG 7,500 (for slots) to BNG 35,000 (for casino and table games), while the license fees will range from BNG 5,000 (for raffles) to BNG 100,000 (for a remote gaming license).
Besides, on the 1st and 3rd year of operation, the state regulator provides a compliance review of each licensee.
License term extension
A gaming operator must provide a written request not later than 2 months before the expiration date of the license. After that the State Commission on Gambling comes to a decision whether to extend the term for the company’s permit for the operation or not. The operator will also have to pay for the license term extension. The amount of fee will be the same as for issuing a permit.
Suspension and renewal of operation
In case there is need for a gaming operator to suspend their activity for a particular period of time, the organizer should file an application to both National Revenue Agency and the State Commission at least a week before the date this suspension is planned to start. When the time comes for the gaming activities to be renewed, the operator must file an application to the same organizations with the date of operation resuming. It also should be noted that neither suspension nor resumption will have any influence on the duration of the license validity.
Read more: Benefits of Licensed Online Casinos
Only names of games, company’s trademark, game results, and conducted draws are permitted to be placed in public areas.
Licensed gaming operators are permitted to sponsor sports, healthcare, social, cultural, and educational events.
- iGaming: 20% on GGR + BNG 100,000 (a fixed amount) + BNG 50,000 annually for responsible gambling purposes;
- Brick and mortar casinos: for slots (per seat) – BNG 500/quarter, for roulette (per table) – BNG 22,000/quarter, for other gambling equipment (per piece) – BNG 5,000/quarter;
- Land-based betting: 15% on turnover + BNG 5,000 a year for responsible gambling purposes;
- Lotteries: BNG 5,000 annually for responsible gambling purposes;
- Bingo – BNG 5,000 a year for responsible gambling purposes.
Cryptocurrencies in Bulgaria are forbidden. Besides, only EEA/EU licensed providers are permitted to process payments.
All the limitations connected with electronic marketing and GDPR background rules can influence gaming operations. Therefore, licensed companies are to be well aware of them.
All certified gaming machines (including bingo machines, electronic roulettes, slot machines, online RNGs, etc), as well as land-based terminals, are permitted.
Read more: GDPR Application Rules
Liability and enforcement
In case a company is operating in Bulgaria without a license issued by the state regulating authority, the IP of this organizer of gaming activities will appear in the blacklist. Those violating the Gambling Act regulations will face administrative penalties.
Anti-money-laundering directives, GDPR, and other EU regulations influence enforcement and liability.
The most recent amendments to the Gambling Act have already been sent to the EU Commission for approval. They include more severe rules for gaming ads as well as an increased fee for responsible gambling purposes.
As mentioned earlier, according to industry professionals, the Gambling Act 2005 is outdated and needs to be renewed.