Bulgarian law makers are contemplating an addition to Bulgarian gambling laws in order to crack down on illegal sports betting. The underground activity has been growing steadily ever since the legal and taxed sports betting industry was introduced in the form of the government operated Sports Toalizator.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science, Children, Youths and Sports – Ognyan Stefanov, told online gambling news in Bulgaria: “Until now, it used to be more profitable to be sentenced by the court as a criminal under the Penal Code instead of for violation under the Gambling Act. The introduction of the new sanctions for illegal betting will change things.”
He went on to comment: “The new sanctions are much higher but they are not within some irrational limits – the sanctions have been brought in line with the texts of the Penal Code. We have also looked for a balance between the Penal Code and the Gambling Act, since at the moment the fines for illegal betting envisaged under the Penal Code used to vary between BGN 100 – BGN 150 ($73-109), while under the Gambling Act they vary between BGN 20,000 – BGN 50,000 ($14,600 – 36,500). I.e. it used to be better for the criminals to be sentenced under the Penal Code,”
Punters who bet on sports in Bulgaria could legally do so at any Totalizator kiosk or office easily found throughout the country. The company also offers online lottery and online sports betting in Bulgaria. There are rumors of a possible expansion into the world of online casino gambling as well. Over half of all profits from Sports Totalizator are currently used to subsidize Bulgarian sports teams.
Naturally a whole network of illegal casinos and bookmakers exists in Bulgaria which are run by leading underworld figures such as Mufta The Jew and Loshka One Ear. So far law enforcement’s efforts to end illegal sports betting have met with dismal failure. Mr. Stefanov hopes that the proposed measures will once and for all rid Bulgaria of illegal sports betting market.