Bulgarian National Assembly votes for gambling ad ban

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Bulgarian National Assembly votes for gambling ad ban

Proposed revisions to the nation’s Gambling Act would enforce a sweeping prohibition on most forms of gambling advertisements nationwide. This encompasses promotions across television, print, online media, radio, and building exteriors.

Should it gain approval, advertising would be restricted solely to billboards situated within 100 meters of a casino, sports facility, or gaming hall.

In the initial reading, assembly deputies voted in favor of the proposal, with 186 out of 240 legislators supporting the legislation.

Criticism of the measure came from the finance minister, who cautioned against its potential impact on channelization.

Finance Minister Lyudmila Petkova remarked:

The Ministry of Finance has conducted an analysis of gambling advertising strategies in EU member states and beyond. Our findings indicate that a complete prohibition on gambling advertisements often leads to a surge in illicit gambling activities. In reality, most nations have adopted a balanced approach.

Critics labeled the advertising ban as a populist maneuver. Legislators scheduled an extraordinary session for the bill’s second reading on April 30, one day before the assembly adjourns for pre-election campaigning.

Some members of parliament denounced the proposed legislation as a populist tactic geared towards garnering votes in the upcoming June elections.

The bill was introduced to the National Assembly by deputies from the opposition parties GERB and DPS, Temenuzka Petkova and Yordan Tsonev.

ITN politician Grozdan Karadzhov criticized the law for its perceived leniency towards gambling operators, according to local reports. Instead, he advocated for stricter regulations on gaming promotions, higher taxes, and for slot machines to be linked to the country’s gambling regulatory body, the NRA.

Additionally, the law contains provisions aimed at combatting the unlicensed gambling market.

Under the new regulations, websites hosting illegal gambling activities would face fines ranging from BGN50,000 (€25,600) to BGN200,000.

Companies facilitating payments related to unlicensed gambling would also be subject to penalties.