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Bulgaria: More Poker Sites Blacklisted

Bulgaria has added another block of online gaming operators to its recently formed blacklist, and William Hill and PokerStars are among the sites included.

The announcement of the newly blacklisted sites put the country’s total list to 48 domains. A number of domains from both of the major online gaming operators have been added to the list, with PokerStars’ .com site and its Belgian .bg site being among those included.

William Hill also has three of its domains on the nation’s blacklist – its .com site, the site for its Joyland Casino brand, and the site for its 21nova operation. Party Poker and Titan Poker are also among the more highly known sites to have been named as new additions to the Bulgarian State Gambling Commission’s (BSGC) list.

It follows the release of Bulgaria’s blacklist two weeks ago, which had an inaugural list of 20 online operators from around the world. That initial listing also contained some of the biggest companies in the online gaming industry such as Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair, 888 and Sportingbet.

BSGC Chairman Ivan Enicherov expressed his support for the blacklist and said that it was necessary to stop the sites from operating in the Eastern European country in their present situations. “[The blacklisted online gaming operators] offer a menu in Bulgarian and directly target the Bulgarian consumer… without a license from the [State Gambling Commission]”.

PartyPoker, however, has disputed this explanation, saying that its service currently does not target customers in Bulgaria and does not offer any services on its site in the Bulgarian language. It is believed that another reason why some of the sites are blacklisted in Bulgaria is due to the fact that they are also listed on the blacklists of other countries in the European Union.

The BSGC was officially given the power to blacklist online gaming websites in March last year after a motion was passed in the country’s parliament. Under the commission’s licensing regulations, online gaming operators are required to have a physical presence in Bulgaria and at least five years’ experience of operating in the online gaming industry.

In what may be a potential sign the blacklist is having its intended effect, Mr Enicherov said that some of the blacklisted services have already enquired about attaining a Bulgarian gaming licence. “”We are now receiving letters of intent from some of the organisers of online gambling regarding licensing in accordance with Bulgarian law,” he said.

Such intent from online gaming companies is indicative of their desire to capitalise on the growing potential of the Bulgarian market. According to Bloomberg, Bulgaria’s economy grew for the eleventh straight quarter in Q1 2013 in what is a sign of that country’s solid economic state in contrast with the economies of other European nations.

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