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Amendments Could Reform Online Gaming in Bulgaria

Blacklists; they have been the way a number of governments have attempted to curb online gaming companies deemed of operating illegally within their borders.

Bulgaria has been one of the countries to have used blacklists as a strategy to stop unlicensed online gaming sites from being accessed by Bulgarians.

Approximately 160 Internet gaming sites have been blacklisted by the Bulgarian government since March last year. That was when the government officially gave the country’s State Gambling Commission the power to ban the IPs of unlicensed sites.

Many top tier poker services are featured on Bulgaria’s blacklist, including PokerStars, PartyPoker and 888, all of which are among the top five poker sites in terms of player traffic according to Pokerscout. A number of other prominent gaming companies, including Ladbrokes and William Hill, have landed on the blacklist.

However, the blacklist is likely to soon be abolished after various licensing and taxation amendments with regards to online gaming were made in Bulgaria’s parliament. According to the Sofia Globe website, the amendments are part of a bill tabled by 11 Members of Parliament who are part of the ruling government. The amendments will also change the way licenced online gaming companies are taxed in the Eastern European country.

Companies that are licenced in Bulgaria are currently required to pay 15 percent tax on total stakes. Under the new amendments, they would be required to pay a licensing fee of 100,000 Lev (around 51,000 Euros) as well as 20 percent tax on gross gaming revenue.

That would put Bulgaria closer in line with most other countries who licence online gaming companies, which may make it more enticing for more companies to seek operating licences. Changes have been required to Bulgaria’s online gaming laws for quite some time as only a small number of online gaming companies have been given a licence.

Should the proposed changes pass Bulgaria’s parliament, it could help make the country one of the top areas for online gaming in Eastern Europe. Poker would be likely to gain one of the greatest benefits of increased online gaming activity in Bulgaria due to its popularity in the country.

The Eureka Poker Tour has a leg in Bulgaria and this year’s event saw record numbers of participants take to the felt. The country has also spawned some top level poker players in recent years, one of whom is Simeon Naydenov, who won a gold bracelet at this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP).

2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event winner Dimitar Danchev is another Bulgarian poker player who has made his presence felt in the game. They show that the quality and popularity of Bulgarian poker is on the rise, something that could lead to a bigger Bulgarian online gaming market and government revenue from those companies.

It is currently unclear when the bill with the amendments will be put forward for debate, but online gaming companies hoping to operate in the country will likely be hoping it is sooner rather than later.

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