Industry in 2008-2009

Industry in 2008-2009

The past year brought many challenges to the gaming industry worldwide that reflected the gaming industry in Bulgaria as well.

The global economy crisis impacted the Bulgarian economy and at the end of 2008 showed its signs on the gaming industry. The gaming revenues began to decline slowly due to decreased visitation on one hand, and reduction of the disposable cash and spending of the casino visitors, on the other. According to the State Commission on Gambling, 52 gaming licenses were not renewed at the end of 2008, and 39 gaming halls closed due to negative financial results. For the first half of the year, 44 gaming halls canceled their license prior to its expiration. Current statistics reveal that as of September 2009 there are licensed: 21 casino operators, 448 operators of gaming halls, 20 operators of bingo, 6 organizers of betting events, and 1 lottery organizer (State Commission on Gambling, 2009).


Despite the major challenges brought by the global economic recession, the gaming industry generated significant contribution to the national budget in 2008. The gaming taxes for 2008 rose to 112 Million BGN, which is about a 30% increase from 2007. The gaming fees paid to the State Commission on Gambling during the last year are 5 Million BGN. Overall, the gaming industry employed more than 85 000 people in various cities of the country, especially on the borderline with Romania, Greece, and Turkey, thus creating employment in some rural and poorly developed areas. Approximately 70% of the employed in the sector received additional training and professional qualification.





Gaming Tax

72 500 000 BGN

86 475 530 BGN

112 074 207 BGN

Gaming Fees

4 015 446 BGN

4 114 751 BGN

5 621 302 BGN


Over 55 000

Over 78 000

Over 85 000


Besides the economic crisis, reduction of available cash, and the lack of bank crediting, multiple other factors influenced the regional gaming situation, and had an effect on the gaming industry in Bulgaria. A Smoking Ban was introduced in many jurisdictions in Europe, that led to negative customer reactions and additional decreases in revenues in the casinos.

Russia finally imposed the gaming ban from the beginning of July 2008 and restricted gaming to 4 zones. Ukraine surprisingly voted a ban on gaming in June 2009 and closed with immediate effect, taking out of business hundreds of operators. Thousands of used slot machines were placed out of operation for resale, creating a situation of oversupply. Albania voted their new gaming law, realizing that this is the only way to regulate and stop illegal gaming, and better utilize the benefits of regulated and controlled gaming environment. Romania accepted changes in their current regulation. Discussions have started on amendments to the Serbian regulation and also Greece notified to the European Commission recent amendments in it’s the gaming regulation. Many projects were canceled due to the changed circumstances and others were temporarily stopped or postponed. Some of the investments were redirected.

Important for the gaming industry in Europe and worldwide this year was the resolution of the European Parliament which referred to the independence in the gaming regulation of each member state. The same opinion dominated the online gaming regulations later in the year, when additional impact announced the decision of the European court of Justice stating that each country can require independently licensing of the online gaming operator nevertheless that he holds a license in another member state. All of the above caused substantial changes in the gaming map and caused the industry players to reevaluate their strategy and positioning.


Steps to optimize and streamline their operation and overcome the hardship of the current situation were undertaken by many operators. Reduction of the number of gaming machines in the casinos and gaming halls and replacement of some of the games was one of the steps. Accent on better customer service training was introduced in an attempt to provide the best possible experience to the customers. More cost effective marketing solutions and tools were implemented to develop a loyal customer base. Centralization and computerization of many processes with modern casino management systems was implemented in some casinos. These steps overall had a positive effect on the industry, increasing the level of professionalism and offering better choice of services and product variety to the customers.

The manufacturers of gaming equipment faced hard time as a reflection of the reduced demand and oversupply in the market with used equipment from Russia and Ukraine. Manufacturers’ output production decreased significantly. Many of the companies had to reassess the operations and their business models to overcome the critical situation. This coupled with the reduced cash availability and limited bank crediting created market, in which the operators demanded best commercial terms and chose the vendors, offering lowest price for crediting and leasing options. In this situation, some of the companies were forced to cease operations. Some decided to consolidate in order to optimize their expenses and market positions.

The number of licensed to manufacture service and distribute gaming equipment companies was reduced in comparison to previous years. Nevertheless, the Bulgarian manufacturing companies showed significant achievements during this year betting on innovation and niche product solutions. A series of new products and systems were launched mainly in the product categories including: video slot games, multi games, video slot machines and multiplayer systems.


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