Home » Bulgarian ban on gambling ads enters force

Bulgarian ban on gambling ads enters force

Legislators approved a ban last month.

Bulgaria.- A ban on gambling ads on television, radio, in print and online has come into force in Bulgaria following publication in the State Gazette and sign-off by president Rumen Radev. Legislators voted in favour of the gambling ad ban last month despite opposition from operators and media.

The gambling adverts that remain permissible are billboards located more than 100 metres from schools and ads on the buildings of gaming halls and casinos themselves. They must feature responsible gambling messaging covering at least 10 per cent of the space. Breaches of the ban will be punishable with fines of up to BGN50,000 (€25,570), with the risk of licence withdrawal for repeat offenders. Television broadcasts of national sports tote draws are exempt from the rules.

Some 198 MPs voted in favour during the second reading of the bill, which was submitted by Temenuzka Petkova (GERB) and Yordan Tsonev (DPS).

New rules for gambling machines

As well as advertising restrictions, the bill bans slots and casino gambling in areas with a population under 10,000, with exceptions for national resorts and border areas. The bill also raises the minimum capital to be held by companies that apply for slot machine licences from BGN500,000 to BGN750,000 and introduces a BGN100,000 “social responsibility fee” for online gambling, of which half will go to the Ministry of Health to help fund gambling harm treatment and support.

Meanwhile, people will no longer be able to leave the national gambling self-exclusion register if they receive social assistance. The Council for Electronic Media will oversee compliance with the advertising rules, while violations will be referred to the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency (NRA), which regulates gambling.

The bill was submitted after a parliamentary vote last month rejected a previous proposal to ban gambling advertising. Meanwhile, Romania has banned rural gambling, prohibiting slots in towns with fewer than 15,000 people.