Online Gambling Regulation Comes to Bulgaria

17 March 2012 – By Cristian Dragomir

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The financial crisis has determined governments from all over Europe to re-consider online casinos. According to the Bulgarian Focus news agency, it seems that leaders from Sofia have agreed to regulate online gambling, as a measure that will bring new funds to the country’s budget. The required laws have been passed. Therefore, after the State Gambling Commission finalizes the regulation, the immediate next step is approving them by the Sofia Regional Court. This move will block unlicensed local and foreign gambling operators and they will be put on a black list. Licensing requirements will be set for all online casino operators and internet service providers will have to block access to unlicensed gambling operators in the black list. The new regulation of the online casino environment will add €50 million per year to the state’s revenues, according to the Bulgarian government.

Internet freedom activists have already launched a protest against the law authorizing the blocking of unlicensed online gambling sites. According to Novinite, a Bulgarian publication, the protesters have written an open letter to the new Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev asking him for the presidential veto on the Gambling Act. The internet activists want the law to be sent back to the country’s parliament and be revised. Also, they ask for a full fledged debate on alternatives that do not violate citizens’ rights.

“Internet Society Bulgaria” and the “Association of Independent Internet Providers” claim that filtering internet traffic punishes consumers by limiting their access to internet sites. In their opinion, the law does not prosecute the violators, which are the owners of unlicensed online casinos and online poker rooms. Besides that, such blocking of sites can become a precedent. In the future, governments wanting to control the internet for the “right content” can limit access even to sites like Facebook and Twitter, based on this law. Other disadvantages for citizens will be generated by this blocking. Internet service providers would have to implement filtering systems at their own cost and they would have to pass these on to their consumers. All these complaints have been brought to the notice of the Bulgarian legislators.

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