Bulgaria’s online gambling plans are in tatters after their gambling bill was roundly criticized. Every man and his dog, which actually extended to the European Union, on and offline operators and even Malta, reserved their ire for the legislation and it’s hardly that surprising. Reforms are now on hold until the 20th July after the EU and Malta came out with criticisms.
The European Commission’s opinion has yet to be published and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) secretary general Sigrid Ligne said, “They need to reflect on this very clear feedback from the Commission.
“Some of the main requirements in the bill are not something that would motivate any operator to take a licence. There are lots of question marks still. We need to see how the government responds to the detailed opinion.”
The main gripes the online operators have are some of the ridiculous stipulations that have been put in by those sorting the bill out. The proposals include a blanket ban on all gambling adverts as well as the need for companies needing to have five years experience in Bulgaria. In addition, all business must be done through Bulgarian banks and some equipment will have to be located in the country. Ligne commented that, “These are all requirements that are very national,” while taking issue with the conditions.”
Land-based gaming group BTAMOGI added that “unfair competition” from offshore operators was aggravating the effects of the crisis. As well as this there was a tax hike of around 17% that didn’t help
“That is why the regulation of online gaming is needed for the industry and in general the new draft law on gambling is a positive step towards modernizing the legislation in Bulgaria,” Nadia Hristova, member of BTAMOGI’s management board, said.
The Bulgarian government visited London to seek the help of the English about how to make it work and was met with the Remote Gambling Association’s (RGA) view that the regulations need to become more viable. Clive Hawkswood, RGA chief executive, said, “It’s a jurisdiction that could be attractive and could be made to work. There are some black holes in the legislation so you can’t be sure. There are certainly a number of companies looking at it.”
For now though Bulgaria is going to have to rethink the plans if the EU is to go anywhere near them.