Proiect de lege Bill to ban private lotteries

Bill to ban private lotteries introduced in the Bulgarian Parliament by Valeri Simoeonov, member of the National Front for Salvation Party.

Valeri Simoeonov has introduced a bill to ban private lotteries operating in the country and confine the operation of lotteries to a monopoly owned by the government.

The bill introduces an amendment to Bulgaria’s 2012 Gambling act which bans all entities except the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator (BST) from organising lotteries in the country. However, private operators can still organise bingo, raffle and keno games.

The bill also requires that the authorities managing the BST will be appointed by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Youth and Sports jointly.
National Lottery, one of the biggest private lottery operators in Bulgaria, issued a statement on its website stating, “the nationalisation of private business is an unacceptable precedent that will lead to irreversible consequences for the state, legislative and executive branches.”

“The market should not be growing for the sake of it, because in gambling, one’s spending is another’s revenue. We witness how with their last money, especially at petrol stations and it is staggering, people re-fuel for 10 leva and spend 20 leva on gambling,” Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov was quoted as saying by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).

Goranov said the change will bring increased revenue, as well as support sports in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Sports Totalisator, the state lottery operator is required by law to pay out a substantial portion of its revenue to the Sports Ministry, which then distributes the money to individual sports federations.

Apart from the bill in Parliament, Goranov vowed to bring forward a proposal for restructuring the State Gambling Commission, after an analysis by the finance ministry found that the gambling regulator “made contradictory decisions over the years, which shows that there are accumulated faults that must be fixed”.

Besides Simoeonov, the bill has been sponsored by other members of the nationalist electoral alliance United Patriots – namely, Yordan Apostolov, Hristian Mitev, Rosen Ivanov, Petar Petrov, Boris Yachev and Slavcho Atanasov.

The bill needs to be examined by the Committee on Budgets and Finance before it may be placed for a vote in the National Assembly of Bulgaria. The Committee on Children, Youth and Sports and the Committee on Education and Science are also involved in scrutinising of the bill.

In addition to revoking the licenses of private lottery operators within 3 months of the law going into effect, the bill envisions that the operators should pay out all outstanding winnings no later than June 2021, or December 2025 if they enter a deferred payment contract with the individual lottery winners.