Bulgaria to Restrict Gambling Ads, as Industry Readies Kiosks

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Bulgaria’s Ministry of Finance is working on gambling law amendments as the Balkan country seeks to crack down on ads and money laundering. This announcement came after Finance Minister Asen Vasilev and the National Revenue Agency (NRA) met with representatives of Bulgaria’s four biggest gambling organizations.

According to the announcement, Bulgaria is set to restrict “aggressive” ads and prohibit advertisements in proximity of schools and governmental buildings. At the same time, Bulgaria will try to crack down on unlicensed gambling operators via the introduction of new measures.

Gambling industry representatives reassured the minister that they’ve undertaken steps to self-regulate their business. The associations still agreed that the discussed measures must also be reflected in the law.

The meeting saw Minister Vasilev and NRA representatives meet with members of the Bulgarian Gambling Association, the Bulgarian Gambling Operators Union (SOHIDB), the Association of Gambling Industry in Bulgaria (AGIB) and the Bulgarian Gaming Association. Representatives of the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator and the Association of Bulgarian Radio and Television Broadcasters were also present at the meeting.

Alphawin’s New Kiosks Are Being Investigated by the NRA

In the meantime, Bulgaria is discussing the future of online gambling kiosks. Proposed by Alphabet Gaming/Alphawin, the program would see gaming terminals rolled out in various retail shops across the country.

This move would mirror trends in other regulated markets where operators would sometimes ink affiliate agreements with bars and other shops, allowing them to offer gaming kiosks.

Currently, Alphawin’s kiosks are only available in the town of Dobrinishte. The operator also plans to launch them in Plovdiv, one of the biggest cities in Bulgaria, followed by launches in multiple other towns and cities.

However, the legality of these offerings has been questioned. Minister Vasilev could not say whether these kiosks are in line with Bulgaria’s gambling laws but promised that the NRA is investigating the case.

Lyubomir Zaharinov, Alphawin’s owner, told Mediapool, a local news outlet, that his team had consulted law experts to make sure that the affiliate program does not breach any laws. Despite that, he promised to temporarily stop the program until the kiosks have been cleared by the NRA and until this approach has been consulted with other industry representatives.

Zaharinov also told Mediapool that his team has been careful with the rollout of the kiosks as it doesn’t want to spark a new “gambling mania” and harm customers. The owner concluded that gambling operators are set to convene on October 13 and discuss the kiosks and the affiliate approach.

For reference, the kiosks in question are not strictly gambling machines but rather computers that allow users to access the internet. Users can not only gamble but visit all kinds of sites as well.

The NRA continues to investigate the machines and Alphawin’s affiliate approach as of the time of this writing. The agency has yet to identify any legal breaches.

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