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Bulgaria – Over 600 Bulgarian casinos would close if bill is approved

By - 10 June 2020

A politician in Bulgaria has presented a bill that aims to close 638 land-based casinos and slot halls by the end of 2025 and put the industry in the hands of the government.

Valeri Simeonov, head of the National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), has brought forward the bill that would only allow casinos in five-star hotels and at ten resorts located within 20km of the border.

He wants casinos to realigned in Bulgaria to focus on foreign players in tourist resorts rather than Bulgarians. The bill would wipe out all but 15 per cent of the existing casino sector. He believes that a state-owned model would be better equipped to crackdown on gambling addiction.

Mr. Simeonov said: “It [gambling] is a pandemic, like the coronavirus. There are cases of suicide, mortgaging the home, loss of everything. This must end.”

The Bulgarian Gaming Association BTAGI said the bill would see 638 casinos shut up shop with 30,000 people losing their jobs.

It said: “The project submitted by MP Valeri Simeonov creates conditions for an uncontrollable increase in illegal gambling. Global practice shows that the restriction of regulatory opportunities for the development of the gaming industry creates a favourable ground for the development of illegal gambling, which cannot be effectively controlled.

“In this situation, the consumer will not be able to be protected and all regulations to combat gambling addiction will be completely inapplicable. Once the business enters the criminogenic contingent, conditions are created for corruption to flourish,’ the association added. “The closure of gambling halls and casinos that do not meet the restrictive requirements to be in 5-star hotels and in resort and border locations raises doubts about lobbying interests.

“With the proposed regime, the work of a legal, well-organised and operating on the principle of free economic initiative sector will be blocked, providing an opportunity to redirect and limit to a certain circle of persons: owners of luxury hotels.”

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