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Bulgaria Moves to Take Control of Lottery, Boosting Tax Collection

January 24, 2020 | Government

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria is preparing legal amendments take control of lottery gaming, shutting out the current private operators in a bid to improve tax collection.

Parliament’s budget committee on Thursday approved a draft bill banning existing lottery games within three months and allowing only the state-owned Bulgarian Sports Totalizator to organize them.

It puts Bulgarians’ spending on lottery tickets at about 1 billion lev ($510 million) a year — about 0.8% of economic output.

The amendments, which could still change before final approval, sparked opposition from Vasil Bozhkov, one of Bulgaria’s richest people and the owner of a stake in the country’s biggest gambling company. He called it an attempt to take over his business.

Bulgaria’s financial auditor opened an inquiry into the government’s Gambling Commission on Wednesday, alleging violations and that fees and taxes of at least 210 million lev have been missed from lottery games since 2014.

New Rules for Gambling in Bulgaria

The bill establishing a National Gambling Agency, which replaces the State Gambling Commission, has been published for discussion, BNR reported.

The change is in line with European practices, according to the reasons given by the Ministry of Finance.

The aim is to harmonize tax and licensing policies for all business participants. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said there was no connection between the financing of Levski football club and the report of the state financial inspection, according to which more than EUR 100 million were not received in the treasury due to different treatment of the lottery operators.

Borissov described the allegations of nationalization of private lotteries as “deeply false” and urged them to pay the corresponding license fees.

SOURCE: Bloomberg L.P. and Sofia News Agency.

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