Impact of the Online Casino Blacklist

4 August 2013 – By Linda Jefferson

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The online casino market in Bulgaria has suffered a substantial impact after the state government cracked down on the activity by requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block public access to popular European online gambling sites. The state-provided blacklist for Bulgarian ISPs is a result of The Gambling Act, which came in act in 2012 and is sought to address the issue of companies accepting online gamblers from Bulgaria without a license.

Online gambling blacklist has been expanded several times since its introduction in June 2013. In present day, the list includes over 100 separate domains, including popular online casino brands like PokerStars and Boyle’s. Analysts of the market believe the list will continue to grow as there are little to no requirements for a site to land on the list. Apparently, the online gambling site only needs to be available in Bulgaria to qualify for inclusion. The process is simple as authorities once they identify a site that allows online gambling from Bulgaria they submit the names to the state court. The court issues an order that requires ISPs to block all access to the domain in question. Most ISPs are already participating and general access is suspended within a few days of a site being added to the list. Even regional and minor providers that are trailing a bit behind in terms of compliance will ultimately heed the blacklist and cut off access to the listed sites for their customers.

Despite all this process of banning online casino domains, Bulgarian players who have already downloaded the software that contains the actual games can still play games at the site. Most online gambling sites do not use their actual website to conduct gameplay and for this reason, the ban appears to have little effect for some gamblers. It is left unclear to date if or how Bulgarian government intends to address this issue. Besides that, the process by which operators can apply to be licensed operators in Bulgaria is unknown until present day. This would allow online gambling companies to sidestep the blacklist and offer their services legally to Bulgarian citizens.

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