Bulgaria’s gambling market has increased by more than 50% during the past two years based on the growth of the tax revenue generated by the gambling industry.
According to data provided by the National Revenue Agency (NRA), the total revenue generated by the Bulgarian gambling sector in 2021 amounted to approximately BGN241 million – a figure that represented a 25% increase compared to the year 2020.
And in 2022, the results are even better. Bulgaria’s gambling regulator reported that, for the first nine months of the year, the contribution of the local gambling sector amounted to BGN233 million in tax revenue, which is almost exactly the same as the revenue collected for the whole of 2021. According to some analysts, if the country’s gambling industry keeps up the same pace during the last three months of 2022, which is considered the most likely scenario, experts say that the tax revenue growth could increase by 30% in comparison to 2021.
The fast-paced increase is mainly due to the development of the local online gambling sector. The beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic saw online gambling in Bulgaria flourish after brick-and-mortar venues were hit by various restrictions to tackle the infection from further spreading. Apart from that, the Bulgarian Government cracked down on the largest gambling market stakeholder, local billionaire Vasil Bozhkov, who used to operate a number of licensed gambling companies in the country.
These two factors boosted competition, allowing new companies to enter the market, which was no more dominated by the companies once run by Mr. Bozhkov.
Online Gambling Sector in Bulgaria Experiences Considerable Increase Since the Beginning of Covid-19 Pandemic
According to information provided by Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency, the online gambling sector contributed approximately BGN133.4 million to the country’s coffers between January 1st, 2022 and September 30th, 2022. This makes the online gambling industry’s contribution to tax revenue for the first nine months of the year bigger than the amount it contributed as tax revenue for the entire 2020 – BGN73.8 million.
The number of licensed online gambling companies has also faced a considerable increase since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, there were only six operators that were offering online gambling services in Bulgaria. For the time being, a total of 32 online gambling licenses have been granted to 18 companies by the Bulgarian State Commission for Gambling. These companies currently run 11 gambling websites offering various games on the Internet.
On the other hand, the land-based gambling venues in the country faced some hurdles during the past two years because of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Bulgarian Government, which ordered them to shut down for periods of varying lengths. With the restrictions being relaxed, the last quarter of 2021 saw local casinos and gaming halls get on the way to recovery.
According to reports from the country’s gambling regulator, there were 770 licensed gambling halls in Bulgaria in 2020, while the licensed casinos were 19. As of the end of September this year, there are 21 licensed casinos, as well as 1,020 gaming halls. The overall number of licensed gaming companies that operate gaming halls in the country is 319, in comparison to 3030 in 2020.