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Bulgaria Establishes Itself as Gambling Heaven as Revenues Reach $1.9 Billion
- April 9, 2018 By Oliver Young -
Last year has been huge for Bulgaria and its gambling market, as the country witnessed doubled gambling revenues. Namely, gambling operators based in Bulgaria, according to latest reports, has generated revenue of impressive $1.9 billion in 2017, a number twice as high in comparison to ten years ago.
Experts tried to explain this incredible progress of the Bulgarian gambling market, pointing out the large tax benefits given to operators as the main reason for it. According to the Center of the Study of Democracy (CSD), licensed Bulgarian gambling operators paid $111 million in taxes in 2016; in comparison, during the first 9 nine months of 2017 they paid a total of $90.32 million.
Namely, back in 2013 the Bulgarian government implemented new and much more relaxed gambling laws in the country; this proved to be beneficial for both the operators as well as the Bulgarian gambling market. Thanks to there regulations, the Bulgarian gambling started growing and many reputable name have entered its market, with NetEnt being the first major company to do so.
Under the new laws, land-based operator started being taxed on the number of gambling devices they feature in their venues. Remote gambling companies, on the other hand, pay a fixed 20% tax on their revenues. Foreign gambling operators have to pay additional licensing fee of $62,725 too.
Scratchcards Remain Highest Grossing Segment
It is interesting to note that scratchcards remain the highest grossing segment of the Bulgarian gambling market. This gambling product became popular several years ago and consumers never seem to get over it as it’s popularity is constantly growing. It should be noted, however, that the aggressive marketing on various media outlets had a huge role in their popularity. Even though there aren’t any precise details on the total scratchcards generated revenue in 2017, it is important to say that in 2016 this figure was around $200 million i.e. up for 30% y-o-y.
There are two largest sellers of scratchcards in Bulgaria – Lottery Bulgaria and National Lottery; both are, however, owned by Vasil Bozhkov, a Bulgarian businessman known as one of the wealthiest people in the country and a person often alleged to have criminal ties.
Over 1,300 Licensed Gambling Operators
In terms of number of operating gambling companies within Bulgaria, data shows that there are 1,327 operators that are allowed to provide gambling services in the country. This number includes both land-based facilities and remote gambling sites. Nonetheless, despite the fast growth of the gambling market in Bulgaria, there have been numerous complaints that these operators pay only a small portion of the profits they generate each year.
Moreover, there’s been lots of criticism as well as concerns regarding the impact that gambling and betting activities have on the population. As some local media have reported, at 40% of Bulgarians have engaged in soft form of gambling, with the rates constantly rising.