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East Europe's Gambling Laws and Casino Laws

by: World Casino Directory staff
Friday Oct 31st, 2014

This article is not extensive and is intended only as a general guideline to the casino and gambling laws that govern this location.

Eastern Europe Gambling Laws

Casinos are fast emerging as the best means of entertainment in Eastern Europe. There are a total of 18 countries with casinos in them and 1 with Pari-mutuel facilities in Eastern Europe. Casinos and gambling arcades in countries like Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, and Hungary etc. are getting increasing popularity. However, gambling in each country is governed by a set of law. Each country has its own rules and legalities.

Albania: Betting in Casinos started in late 2004 in Albania. The first casino was opened in October 2005 at the Hyatt Regency in Tirana. Then government decided to quadruple taxes on slot machines. Therefore Hyatt threatened to close down the much adulated casino joint. This casino has 22 tables and 240 slot machines.

Bulgaria: Evolution of the gaming law: Bulgaria has seen a substantial growth of the gaming industry in the last decade. There was no regulation on gaming till a few years back and now the country has a significant one. There was almost no gaming after 1989 with a few exceptions. Only a handful of hotels that hosted foreigners boasted of casinos.

And due to this lack of regulations, some old fashioned AWPs and slots began entering the country. This led to a frenzied growth without any consistent organization in the gaming industry. As a result a lot of low quality products and low payout percent were predominant in the market for nearly 3 years.

Gaming was made official in 1993 in Bulgaria through a Government Decree. This legalized casinos, Bingo Halls, Government lottery and Government Lotto. There were certain restrictions and limited payout. Gaming machines experienced rising popularity as a route operation in gaming locals, arcades and coffee shops.

Casino laws in Bulgaria: Gaming regulations were further developed and The Gaming Law was promulgated in 1998. A licensing system and new taxes were introduced. Changes were made in the definition and the requirements for gaming equipments. Clearly defined regulatory body and structure and enforcement of policies and procedures came into formulation.

As per these regulations, only licensed and specialized gaming locations/ casinos were allowed to operate gaming equipments. Restrictions were also placed in respect of foreign ownership of casinos and upfront licensing fees were required which is different for casinos, bingos and gaming arcades.

Casinos were not permitted anywhere within 300 meters of a school or university. Also no one under the age of 19 years or in a military uniform was allowed in the casinos.

Gaming Machines: The limited payout for the gaming machines was removed, however gaming equipments were allowed only after they were tested and approved by a specialized laboratory. Gaming equipments also required specific registrations before operation.

Other prohibitions: The law also prohibited any kind of publicity and mass media advertising of casinos. Strict regulatory and controlling agencies were formed to ensure that casinos are adhering to the new law.

New Law: However this law was yet again amended in 1999. This time licenses for gaming equipment manufacturers, service centers and distributors were introduced.

The casinos in Bulgaria can be categorized either as local casinos, tourist casinos or casinos for junket group which are mainly from Turkey and Israel. Usually these casinos have 3-5 gaming tables. This is due to the high double taxation – upfront payment per table and corporate tax on the income that is the number of the gaming tables per casino is optimized.

Slots: As far as slots are concerned, gaming owners in Bulgaria are allowed to have gaming arcades with a minimum of 10 slots in cities with less than 30,000 people. In cities with a population more than 30,000, gaming arcades must have a minimum of 10 slots.

The total number of legal gaming machines is 6,000 approximately. The number of gaming machines is kept to an optimal level due to the specifics in taxation system in Bulgaria, which is tied to a quarterly advance payment of a fixed tax per gaming seat/table, in addition to the corporate income tax.

For example, the required tax per gaming Roulette table is approximately 12,000 USD per quarter upfront payment followed by a corporate tax on the income amounting to up to 28%.For slots, the upfront tax is close to 200 USD per slot per quarter, or 20-30%of the gross revenue per machine for the same period.

The Bulgarian law requires that all the equipments placed in the casinos need to pass laboratory tests. They have to be certified for compliance by the local Gambling Laboratory. The payback percentage varies however it is not allowed to be less than 80%. The Bulgarian gambling law requires that,

 Only active physical persons of legal age, which are not restricted by the present or any other Law, have the right to participate in gambling.  The disabled ones have right to receive tickets for participation in lottery, Toto and Lotto games. Exceptions Art. 3

(1) Sports competitions with award fund for the participants are not considered as gambling.

(2) The following recreational or sport games, such as: recreational game constructions, Minifutball, pool or table-tennis, darts, bowling, paint-ball and speed-ball, mini-basketball, bridge, Trick-track and others are not considered as gambling, in spite of the fact, that the require stakes, or the usual practice is that the person, who lost should pay the expenses the game, providing, that the stake and the profit are not substantial.

(3) As not gambling games are considered the panel games, based on opening of the right answers or showing of knowledge and skills, providing, that the awards are not given for the account of the incomes deposited by the participants – tickets, phone taxes or in any other form.

The future of the gaming industry and its development is closely related to and is dependent on the incessant process of economic development of the country. The acceptance of the country in the European Union will be a positive factor in the future of the gaming business in not just Bulgaria, rather in the entire Eastern Europe.


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