Gambling in Bulgaria loses country millions

State Gambling Commission says millions lost to illegal Internet sites

The Bulgrian news agency BGNES reports that government officials are becoming increasingly concerned over the outflow of cash from the country as a result of its residents playing at foreign online gambling sites.

It is estimated by the State Gambling Commission that Bulgaria loses hundreds of millions of leva (1 million BGN leva = Euro 511 292) each year as a result of the activity of illegal operators of online gambling.

Simeon Simeonov, a representative of the Commission, confirmed that companies providing Internet gambling and bets in Bulgaria are in the main unlicensed, and the Commission has reportedly imposed dozens of fines on such companies.

The statistics shows that in 2006 the turnover from illegal online gambling operations in Bulgaria was BGN 500 million, going up to BGN 700 million in 2007, and BGN 1 billion in 2008; the figure is expected to reach BGN 1,5 billion in 2009.

BGNES quotes Alexander Tumparov, Deputy Chair of the Bulgarian Association for Entertainment and Gambling Games, as saying that the unlicensed online gambling operators working in Bulgaria were in violation of nine different laws. Tumparov was speaking at a seminar on bookmaking in Sofia sponsored by online gambling company Betsafe.

Research and Markets published the results of a study of Balkans gambling in April this year (see previous InfoPowa report). The study analysed the Balkan region (Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro) in unprecedented detail and depth, reporting that the regional gambling market was currently worth Euro 4.5 billion from a population of 130 million people, and that the popularity of betting and interactive gambling drive the Balkan gambling markets.

The survey noted that he market was attracting increased attention, and that some forerunners were paving the way - among them Intralot, Sportingbet (about 4 percent of its
business in Bulgaria); Bwin and Bet-at-home.

Together, the Balkan countries had a GDP of Euro 1 170 billion in 2007, and earler this month.

Earlier this month the new Finance Minister of Bulgaria, Simeon Djankov, said that Bulgaria is going to replace its currency, the leva (BGN), with the the Euro in 2012 or 2013.

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