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Betting in Bulgaria

Published on: 30/11/2015

With the end of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, Bulgaria began accepting the customs of the western world. As a result, the Sports and gambling industry became more readily available to Bulgarian citizens.

In 1990, a Bulgarian bookie called Eurofootball was set up - aptly named due to the nation’s keen attention to Europe’s most popular sport. This private gambling business was run unofficially until a licence was granted by the government in 1993. Eurofootball went on to be very successful, and currently operates more than 800 gambling venues in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian government noticed Eurofootball’s achievements and ventured into gambling with a product known as “спорт тото” or Sports Totalizator. The national bookie offers conventional betting mixed with a national lottery. Approximately half of the profits are allocated to Bulgarian sports associations, 35% is taken as taxes and 15% is used for business running costs.

Because Sports Totalizator has an official licence, it is able to offer online gambling facilities in Bulgaria. This has been the case since 2008, when the government amended the law enabling Internet sports betting. Sports Totalizator is the only business authorised to trade in this way. Eurofootball is in the position where it can legally promote sports gambling, however, the process of placing bets has to be done so in person, either in a gambling venue or a licensed stall.

The shortage of gambling facilities in Bulgaria encourages foreign betting companies to offer internet sportsbook services; around 336 of those are available in English and 17 web sites use the national language. There are many gambling companies happily accepting wagers from keen Bulgarian punters, they include:

The Euro is the currency of choice for bookmakers in Bulgaria and punters can fund their accounts using Visa or MasterCard at most venues. Online payment facilities such as NETeller and Moneybookers can also be used by bettors based in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, however the government’s attempt to control and initiate the necessary laws regarding Internet Sportsbooks in the country has not been successful. Online betting regulations intended to be advantageous to the nations local companies have actually violated European Union protocols. The Bulgarian government put forward a manifesto in 2011, it included severe punishment for unauthorised betting activities and any type of internet gambling promotion. The new regulations also required betting companies to have at least 5 years worth of involvement within the gambling industry, before an internet betting licence could be obtained.

Paradoxically, the harsh Bulgarian laws have contributed to the influx of criminal gambling activities within its borders. Notorious villains have continued to operate unlawful sports betting enterprises. The Bulgarian authorities have yet to be successful in gaining control and ending the illicit gambling operations. Loopholes in the law have made it easier for the criminal underworld to take advantage of the system. In fact, inciting the end result of a sporting event is not an offence. Bulgaria’s top legal representative Boris Velchev confirmed that charges could only be brought against those guilty of fraud or money laundering while match fixing remained a non-criminal activity in Bulgaria.