Ban on gambling in Bulgaria called for

Social damage outweighs monetary benefit says political leader

Ivan Kostov, leader of the right-wing Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria political party in the eastern European nation, has called for a ban on gambling in Bulgaria, the regional news agency Focus reports.

"Currently taxation on gambling in Bulgaria fails to contribute significant funds to the Budget while the damage gambling causes is huge," claimed Kostov, who is a former prime minister and finance minister.

"People who lobbied to keep gambling free of excise duties lied that this would bring higher revenue to the Budget and that the state would get money in return.

"I support the idea of a complete ban on gambling in Bulgaria, because it doesn't bring revenue, causes damage and probably the only people who benefit from it are the gambling bosses," Kostov said.

Focus reports that on October 15 this year, the government approved a plan to introduce identical tax rates for all games of chance. This means that the state lottery and private fixed-odds sports betting bookmaker Eurofootball will pay 12 percent instead of 10 percent of their betting turnover.

According to Eurofootball, the increase will mean 30 million leva losses for the sector in 2010.

"A large section of gambling operators in Bulgaria are facing bankruptcy, while at the same time Bulgaria could increase revenue collection from online gambling games to 160 million leva annually if it introduces a swift and efficient regulatory framework," Eurofootball said in a statement on October 18 2009.

Russia and the Ukraine have both recently imposed draconian gambling bans, causing huge financial disruption and losses among gambling companies.

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