Bulgaria Gambling Ad Ban Bill Progresses in Parliament

A new bill introduced by two political parties aiming to ban gambling advertisements in Bulgaria has successfully passed its first reading.

The GERB and DPS-sponsored bill seeks to ban all forms of gambling advertisements in Bulgaria. (Source: Elias, Pixabay)

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Proposed by Bulgaria's largest political party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party (DPS), the bill aims to amend the Gambling Act to prohibit gambling ads on television, radio, print, and online platforms.

Additionally, all forms of gambling promotional placements on public structures will also be banned. The only exception would be the land-based casino venues and billboards that are at least 100 meters far from schools. The bill, however, does not cover sports sponsorship.

Land-Based Gambling Venues Restrictions

The proposal also seeks to restrict land-based gambling venues from opening in towns with less than 5,000 residents, excluding tourist resorts and towns located within 18 miles of major roadways. This section mirrors a recent ruling in neighboring Romania, where casinos and slot machines in retail establishments within towns with fewer than 15,000 registered residents were banned.

Operators looking to attain slot machine licenses in Bulgaria will also be required to have a business capital of no less than BGN 750,000, up from the current BGN 500,000.

Furthermore, half of the funds from the operators' social responsibility levy will be allocated to the Ministry of Health for the treatment of gambling addiction.

It's no secret that over the past three years, gambling-related addictions have been extremely increased in our society. This required appropriate measures to be taken in order to limit them.

Temenuzhka PetkovaGERB Deputy Chairman

More Regulation News

New Fines for Illegal Gambling

The bill also addressed the growing number of unlicensed online gambling websites targeting Bulgarian players. The parties argued that illegal gambling activities undermine the national treasury and jeopardize players' protection. As such, they proposed a new law that would impose fines ranging from BGN 50,000 to BGN 200,000 on unlicensed operators and internet service providers allowing access to such platforms.

Payment providers that process payments for unlicensed providers will also be mandated to pay the same penalty fee. Additionally, individuals who wager on these illegal gambling sites would face fines ranging from BGN 500 to BGN 2000.

In January, the Belgian gambling regulator, the National Revenue Agency (NRA), announced that it blocked more than 600 iGaming websites in the last three months of 2023.

Should the amendments be approved, Bulgaria will join other countries like Poland and Italy that have totally banned gambling advertisements.


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