Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Bulgaria
Land-based gambling in Bulgaria was legalized in 1993, and the State Commission on Gambling began issuing licenses to land-based gambling operators. Online gambling in Bulgaria has been legal since 2008, but was regulated only in 2012. Unlicensed online operators are blacklisted, and blocked by internet service providers.
The gambling market is heavily regulated and taxed. Under the Gambling Act, the organizers of gambling are obliged to pay the fee for operating legally within the country. The state fees in 2018 amounted to over BGN 157 million (http://www.dkh.minfin.bg/bg/page/33).
Laws and Regulators
The Gambling Act, 2012 (http://www.dkh.minfin.bg/bg/page/10) regulates a list of allowed gambling games. These games can be organized by state-owned or private companies under a license. The law also introduced the regulation of online gambling activities. The Gambling Act was further amended and supplemented. The latest Gambling Act came into force on January 1, 2018.
The main regulator of both land-based and online gambling, which issues licenses and supervises the activity of gambling operators in Bulgaria, is the State Commission on Gambling. It operates within the Ministry of Finance. The main functions of the State Commission are to regulate the gaming sector in Bulgaria, monitor compliance with the Gambling Act, and increase the state budget revenues. The State Commission on Gambling also issues obligatory general rules and requirements for organizing gambling. In case any violations are revealed, the Commission is empowered to impose sanctions. Latest news, reports and documents are published at the official website (http://www.dkh.minfin.bg/).
Land Based Casinos
Casino gambling is the characteristic feature of gambling in Bulgaria. There are many large, Vegas-style casinos. Most of them can be found in Sofia and other major cities (Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Varna). Large hotels or resorts mainly offer casinos as an amenity, or standalone casinos are situated near them.
The minimum gambling age is 18. Casinos are not located within 300 meters from schools and orphanages. Individuals who are intoxicated, without identity documents, in uniform or armed are not allowed to enter a casino. Smoking in casinos is completely illegal. No credit or loan is given to casino guests in any circumstances. Winnings of amounts exceeding BGN5,000 are not paid in cash. Gambling games are offered in BGN or EUR. The offering of games in other currencies is only allowed for casino games subject to special approval by the State Commission on Gambling.
Bulgarian locals and visitors can legally gamble online; it can be done only on locally licensed websites. The Bulgarian Gambling Act allows the licensing of online gaming operators. Substantial policy efforts were made to modernize legislation. The government does a lot to create a balanced regulatory environment for Bulgarian online gambling. Bulgaria develops high-quality support services relating to online gambling (software development at various levels, technical and customer support, and back office functions).
Only individuals of full legal age (above 18) can participate in online gambling. The list of websites where licensed gambling is organized can be found here. Blacklisted websites are also published by the State Commission on Gambling.