Legal Alert-The New Gambling Act
THE NEW GAMBLING ACT
(IN FORCE AS OF 01.07.2012)
The new Bulgarian Gambling Act (“the Gambling Act”) was published in State Gazette, issue No. 26 from 30.03.2012, and will enter into force on 01.07.2012 repealing the previous Gambling Act which was adopted nearly 13 years ago.
The following is a brief overview of the major improvements provided by the new Act to the regulatory framework of gambling activities.
Purpose of the new Act
The new Gambling Act aims to improve the existing regulation of gambling activities and traces its path into new interactive environments such as Internet and telecommunications.
The new Act is adopted in relation to Bulgaria’s EU membership but is not intended to meet any specific EU legislative requirements, as the regulation of gambling activity is within the sole competence of Member States. Nonetheless, since an entirely new regulatory framework is introduced, the Gambling Act was duly notified to the European Commission in accordance with Directive 98/34/EC laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on Information Society services.
Scope of the new Act
Although the definition of a gambling game stays almost unchanged, the Bulgarian legislature endeavors to enlarge the scope of the new Act by narrowing the range of games left out of regulation.
Games based on luck in which one makes a stake and can either win, or lose the stake, would be treated as gambling. Companies that are about to organize such games now should obtain a license, unlike the permission regime valid prior to the new Act.
Non-gambling are now considered games with entertaining or sports character that require some knowledge and skills to win and, which is most important, are not primarily based on luck. This exception, however, would not be applicable if such games are being organized online and the new Act would treat them as gambling.