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Bulgaria – Leading brands added to Bulgarian blacklist

By - 26 June 2013

As it moves towards regulating an online gaming industry, the Bulgarian government has published a blacklist of unlicensed operators including leading brands such as bet365, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, PartyPoker and William Hill.

The Bulgaria’s State Gambling Commission, who hopes regulating the market could generate 100m Lev (€50m) in taxation, published its first blacklist of illegal operators on June 12 following the adoption of new gambling legislation in March 2012. It has now added another 28 internet domains to the list.

In June it highlighted 22 online sports betting companies providing services to Bulgarian gamblers, admitting though that some of the websites may not have been targeting Bulgarian consumers.
Bulgarian legislators have approved new laws detailing licensing requirements for all online casino operators. The Commission defended its decision to increase the blacklist of unlicensed online operators saying that it has seen a surge in requests from potential licensees.
The Bulgarian Gaming Association argued however that without the right legal processes in place the current situation is an enigma for operators.

A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, one year after the entry into effect  of the Bulgarian gaming law, there are still some subordinate regulations missing, which will make the online operators’ statutory environment complete and allow them to apply for the license and operate legally under the requirements of the law. It is not yet clear when will these subordinate regulations be voted by the Bulgarian Council of Ministers and brought into force. This creates a vacuum, which is not due to a fault of the organisers. Therefore before any restriction and control measures are enforced, the regulator should have created an environment where all the necessary regulations exist. The current situation creates a paradox where the law allows licensed online gaming, the operators are willing to apply for and obtain a license, but the regulator does not say how this should happen and at the same time prohibits operations without a license.”

The Gambling Act, which was adopted in 2012, regulates the online gambling and introduces obligatory requirement for licensing of the online operators.

The association spokesperson added: “It is normal practice for any newly enacted legal framework to have sufficient time before effective enactment for implementation of the subordinate regulations  thus providing the regulated entities with the necessary mechanisms and the create conditions for them to meet the established requirements. As the process of the implementation of the subordinate regulations of the Gambling Law is not yet completed, the Bulgarian Gaming Association (BTAMOGI) has pointed out several times that the period set forth for the operators to bring their activities in accordance with the new Law, should start after the implementation of the subordinate regulations, and not  with the date of the entry into effect of the Gambling Law. Penalties for infringement should not be imposed, providing that there are still some base regulations missing. This applies not only to the licensing requirements for the online operators, but to the practice in general, as the General technical and functional requirements for the gaming software and the communication equipment are also not approved.”

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