Brief review of the gaming industry in Bulgaria in 2010
Last year was marked by the sign of a dynamic process created by the intentions aiming amendments of the Gambling Law and the increase of taxes in the gaming sector voted at the end of 2009. In July 2010 the State Commission on Gambling announced for a public comments and discussions a new Gambling Law Draft. The proposed new draft aimed to update the gambling regulations and to fill up gaps in the current law in respect of the remote gaming, including SMS games and online gambling. There are given clear definitions, of basic terms, such as random numbers generator, wide area jackpot, manufacturer, communication equipment etc., that are missing at the moment and without them it would be not possible the unambiguous interpretation of the technical aspects contents, specified in the draft. Many comments and suggestions regarding the texts were proposed during the public discussions of the Law. BTAMOGI being an association consolidating the interests of a great part of the employed in the industry, made an official proposal to the State Commission on Gambling.
The new project was currently introducing a requirement for an investment not only by the operators but by the manufacturers and service organizations as well. Among the highlights of the proposal are the investment requirements that should be more moderate bearing in mind the economic situation in the country. The requirements should comply with the investment logic, allowing time for making them after issuing the license, rather than in advance. A very important comment related to the required investments was the need of the investment definition to include not only specific operator’s assets but also such reflecting the specific activity of the manufacturers. Expansion of the definition would allow flexible management of the resources rather than strictly legal definition of a limited group of assets. Redefinition of the concept would not only fulfill the conception of the regultor to ensure financial stability but would allow flexibility in the allocation of resources, especially needed in conditions of economic crisis. Important requirement of the industry in the debates was to clearly define the requirement for the investment to be made one-time, prior to getting a license and not for each subsequent change of the license or its renewal.
Many other proposals reflecting the principles and aiming to optimize the operator’s and the manufacturer’s activities were made by BTAMOGI. Such proposals were made also regarding the entirely new section in the project - the remote gaming. Online gambling regulation establishment will fill up an existing gap in the present Gambling Law and will allow for better protection of Bulgarian consumers and at the same time additional revenues will be directed to the Treasury.
BTAMOGI underlines the importance of the regulation being realistic, allowing better control, but at the same time not to create artificial barriers for the operators who want to prove themselves in a competitive environment. Crucial attention was paid to the need of identifying the players involved in online gaming, in order to prevent the participation of minors as well as the possibility of anonymous money laundering.
The concept of BTAMOGI being a spokesman of the industry is that any future changes should be made in the context of a long-term vision and strategy for the industry development and should be highlighting the opportunities for positive social and economic benefits and responsible attitude of the business towards the society. Gaming industry should develop in parallel and in line with the strategy for the development of the tourism industry and the services of the gaming industry should be in a common portfolio with those offered by the tourism industry. The tourism sector is among the main priorities in the development of the economy and the gaming industry should be involved in the attraction of wealthy tourists as well. Having good geostrategic position and unique natural resources our country has the potential -and the real possibilities for the development of spa tourism, golf tourism, congress tourism, etc.
Having in mind the economic crisis and the increased taxes, amendments should be balanced in order to allow stabilizing of the business . The new requirements for the operators should be considered very carefully and all possible negatives for the business should be envisaged. The text of the new Gaming Law should not lead to a market stagnation both for the operators and for the manufacturers but should give a possibility for implementation of new technological opportunities, professional development and standard of living improvement - worldwide tendency that enables better monitoring and control of the activity.