Bulgaria gambling tax rise could cause mass unemployment

Industry is already reeling from the effects of the global economic meltdown, says gambling association

The successful first reading of a Bulgarian government bill designed to hike gambling taxes up from 10 percent to 12 percent (see previous InfoPowa report) has triggered some dire warnings from industry associations, with claims that up to 40 000 people could be put out of work if the changes to the law are passed.

The Sofia news agency reports that the Bulgarian Association for Entertainment and Gambling Games has warned that the industry could collapse under the burden of extra taxes.

According to the Association, instead of raising BGN 12 million of additional revenue, the tax increase is actually going to reduce state revenue coming from gambling because the industry has already seen a 40 percent slump over the economic crisis and will thus be dealt a new blow.

The Association warned that some 40 000 people of the 80 000 jobs in the gambling sector might be made redundant as the industry starts to struggle because of the combined effect of the world economic crisis and the greater tax. It has calculated that since the average salary in the sector is BGN 700, the loss of 40 000 jobs would translate into the loss of BGN 134 million in indirect taxes for the state budget. This figure is said to disregard the potential closures of gambling firms, smaller VAT and corporate tax payments.

According to official data, the Bulgarian gambling industry had a turnover of BGN 700 million in 2007, and of BGN 1 billion in 2008.

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