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Bulgarian economic growth boosts iGaming market

| By iGB Editorial Team
Country's iGaming market grows in first nine months of 2018, but could be affected by proposed advertising restrictions

Bulgaria's online gaming industry saw its tax contribution grow over the first nine months of 2018, according to figures released to iGamingBusiness.com.

The Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Operators in the Gaming Industry's (BTAMOI) annual report shows that the online sector paid BGN111.6m (€57m/$64m) in taxes over the first nine months of 2018, up 17% year-on-year.

BTAMOI said 26% of that total related to licence fees, with the remainder from the 20% tax on GGR, meaning Bulgaria’s 13 regulated sites – including operators such as bet365 and GVC's bwin – took in total handle of BGN413.5 during the period.

Online gaming makes up approximately 10% of Bulgaria’s total gambling market according to the association’s figures, with the remainder generated by land-based operators.

Total gambling tax contribution for the period to the end of September was at BGN174.4m, a 20% year-on-year increase, which came despite concerns over reduced tourism from Turkey affecting casino performance.

BTAMOI believes the upward trajectory of Bulgaria’s gambling sector is due to factors such as new technology being more widely available throughout the country, as well as economic growth.

“For the period 2017/2018 the gaming industry in Bulgaria has shown very good results at national level, based on the country’s upward economic performance,” BTAMOI said, with Standard & Poor today forecasting Bulgaria's economy to grow by 3.6% this year thanks to soaring private consumption and low unemployment.

It added that “the gaming industry is a factor in economic development, providing long-lasting employment, adding a further variety of services to tourism, and last but not least, attracting foreign investments in the country.”

BTAMOI chairman Angel Iribozov told iGamingBusiness.com he hopes 2019 will be characterised by more of the stability seen during the last couple of years. A controversial law designed to restrict advertising was introduced earlier this year, but Iribozov said he does not expect any changes to take place in 2019, adding that he believes the current government is accepting of the industry.

The bill, which was passed to the European Commission for assessment in June, would curb advertising while also restricting the types of facilities from which lottery scratch cards can be purchased.

Referring to the Law on Gambling amendment, BTAMOI said in its annual report: “The sector needs a guarantee of the stability of investments and emerging circumstances should not affect the stability of the issued license, with the exception of the cases in which apparent violations were found.

“All cases should be considered in the context of the circumstances that are as at the date of issuance of the licence in order to avoid a situation where emerging circumstances are beyond the organisers ability to change them, because they are beyond their limits of influence. Therefore, the relevance of the measures should include all subjects of licensing and regulatory regimes.”

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