Bulgaria may not be the first country you think of when it comes to online gambling. Even so, the state does have a regulated gambling industry, and it is a relatively new one. Bulgarian players are somewhat limited in terms of what online casino sites they can access in the country, so knowing just what is available and open to you as a player is essential. This is how you can successfully navigate your way through the tricky Bulgarian online gambling laws.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Bulgaria?
First and foremost, it is legal to gamble at online casinos in Bulgaria. Before players get too exciting, though, they need to know this: the industry is heavily regulated and quite restrictive. All forms of gambling were previously illegal in the European country until 1998, when gambling legislation made by the newly formed State Commission for Gambling. Online gambling in the country became fully legal in 2008, although it wouldn’t be adequately regulated until 2012.
Since 2012, online operators have been given permission to offer their services to Bulgarian players, but only if they hold a valid gambling license from the commission mentioned above. Online casino operators are heavily taxed (20%) on profits, and there is a €50,000 fee for obtaining a gambling license in the country. Believe it or not, the current tax rate is currently lower than it previously was. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in more offshore casinos being prepared to go legal in the country, by obtaining a Bulgarian gambling license.
To date, all forms of online gambling are legal in Bulgaria, provided they are licensed. As a result, there are more than a few Bulgarian online casinos for players to choose from.
Bulgarian Online Casinos
Bulgarian online casinos all carry a license issued by the State Commission for Gambling. Despite the relatively low fee, few of the casinos which are playable in Bulgaria are based in the country. The costs are still too high for many local enterprises to afford. Understandably, this hasn’t really proven to be an issue for big international online casinos, particularly those which runs sportsbooks, too. The fees and taxes are easily affordable for those goliaths, so many see Bulgaria as a lucrative venue to operate online casinos.
A Bulgarian online casino will often offer bingo, lottery, poker and sports betting services alongside traditional online casino games. They will naturally be able to provide gameplay in Bulgarian and use the lev currency to boot. Many of the payment methods and promotions accessible at such casinos scarcely differ from those found at other European casino sites, making things as simple as possible for players from outside Bulgaria to play, too.
Offshore Casino Sites for Bulgarian Players
It is worth noting that smaller, offshore casinos have a much harder time attracting players from Bulgaria. While any such casinos which do try to appeal to Bulgarian players may offer language and currency options which are attractive to them, obtaining access to these sites is somewhat troublesome for Bulgarian players. The gambling authorities in the country have worked tirelessly to try and blacklist all major casinos which are not officially licensed by the state gambling commission.
There is no official punishment for playing at foreign casinos, so it is something that many residents in Bulgaria will take advantage of given a chance. Provided they can work their way around the ISP (internet service provider) blocks, most probably via VPN (virtual private network) software; players are free to play wherever they like.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Like many European countries, Bulgaria likes to have total control of its own gambling laws. The nation regularly rakes in tens of millions of euros worth of tax via its own licenses, so it is hard to see why they would give that up. What may happen, though, is that Bulgaria may decide to lower its taxes and licensing fees further.
When they first regulated the online casino gaming industry, Bulgarian authorities were disappointed with the lack of interest shown by operators. However, after dropping the tax rate and the fees, more operators and business sought licenses to offer gambling services in the country. If the state decides that it would be more prosperous to attract a more significant number of operators by lowering taxes further, this is undoubtedly something they would consider doing. As for a general opening of the market to offshore, unlicensed casinos? Don’t count on it.
Top Bulgarian Casino Sites
Because many international online casinos have sought Bulgarian gambling licenses, players in the country will find that they already have access to a wealth of top and popular casino domains at their fingertips. However, there are still a few sites which are beyond reach, at least without a VPN.
Generally speaking, most of the major licensed casinos open to Bulgarian players tend to be those which offer sports betting options alongside casino games, so they make a good starting point for any player interested in Bulgarian casino sites. Online casinos which Bulgarian players may wish to try their luck at, include Paradise Casino, Cleopatra, Trada Casino, PlayOJO, MobileBet, LVBet, BetAt Casino, ComeOn Casino and Sportingbet.