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Bulgarian legislators vote for ban on gambling ads

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Other restrictions include a ban on slots in very small towns.

Bulgaria.- Legislators have voted in favour of a bill that would ban gambling ads on television, radio in print and online. Adverts will be allowed on billboards located more than 100 metres from schools and on the buildings of gaming halls and casinos. 

Permissible adverts must feature responsible gambling messaging covering at least 10 per cent of the space. Breaches will be punishable with fines of up to BGN50,000 (€25,570), with the risk of licence withdrawal for repeat offenders. Television broadcasts of national sports tote draws will be exempt from the rules.

Some 198 MPs voted in favour during the second reading of the bill, which was submitted by Temenuzka Petkova (GERB) and Yordan Tsonev (DPS). As well as advertising restrictions, the bill bans slots and casino gambling in areas with a population under 10,000, with exceptions for national resorts and border areas.

The bill also raises the minimum capital to be held by companies that apply for slot machine licences from BGN500,000 to BGN750,000 and introduces a BGN100,000 “social responsibility fee” for online gambling, of which half will go to the Ministry of Health to help fund gambling harm treatment and support. Finally, people will no longer be able to leave the national gambling self-exclusion register if they receive social assistance. 

The new rules will enter force three days after the promulgation of the bill in the State Gazette. The Council for Electronic Media will oversee compliance with the advertising rules, while violations will be referred to the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency (NRA), which regulates gambling.

The bill was submitted after a parliamentary vote last month rejected a previous proposal to ban gambling advertising in the country. Meanwhile, Romania has banned rural gambling, prohibiting slots in towns with fewer than 15,000 people.

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