Bulgarian Gambling Information
Facts About Bulgaria
By Reno Rollins
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe and borders Romania, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.
They joined NATO in 2004 and became a full member of the European Union on January 1st, 2007. They joined the United Nations in 1955.
Between 1987 and 1999, Bulgaria consisted of nine provinces. Since that time, they have been expanded to include 28. Each province is named after their respective capital city.
Bulgarian is spoken by 96.3% of the population.
The capital city is Sofia, with a population of around 1.5 million. Other major cities include Varna (500,000), Bourgas (200,000) and Plovdiv (300,000).
The tourism industry has experienced an increase over the last decade, with visitors being drawn primarily from Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Around 7 million tourists visit the country each year, and this has contributed to an annual economic growth of 6.5%.
Bulgarian Gambling Laws
Gambling in Bulgaria has evolved a great deal over the past decade. After 1989, the only gaming was located in hotels which catered to foreigners. There was also no gaming regulation. During this point, the gaming market was hurt by low quality and a low payout percentage. These problems persisted for a few years.
In 1993, gambling was officially defined by a government decree, and this made the lottery, lotto, bingo and casinos legal. The legal age to gamble was set at 18.
During the following years, gaming began to grow substantially, and this led to a number of grey areas in the law. This was dealt with by the Gaming Law of 1998, which further defined the requirements for casinos and gaming operations. It also introduced a licensing system and created new taxes. The Gaming Control Commission was created to regulate the gaming industry.
Under the law, only licensed facilities were allowed to operate gaming equipment. Casinos could not be located within 300 meters of a school or university. Besides the age limit, people in military uniform were also restricted from entering the casinos.
Under this new law, the limited payout for slot machines was also eliminated. Jackpot systems were allowed, but advertising for casinos was prohibited.
In 1999, the Gaming Law was once again amended to include licenses for gaming equipment service centers, equipment manufacturers and distributors.
Casinos in Bulgaria
Casinos in Bulgaria are usually located around tourist destinations. Live games are available in the casinos, with some video or reel slots included. Tables in the casinos are taxed twice (a double tax up front and then a corporate tax on the winnings), so the numbers are usually kept low.
The most popular games include Poker, Baccarat, Punto Banco, Blackjack and Roulette. Craps is perhaps the least popular game in Bulgarian casinos.
The largest casino operator in Bulgaria is the Turkish entertainment group, Princess, which owns three of the country’s larger casinos. The bookmaking chain Eurofutbol also owns a couple of casinos, and Multigroup owns three.
As of this writing, there are 11 major casinos in operation in Bulgaria. They include:
Casino London (Hotel Radisson, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) Open Monday thru Thursday from 6pm until 6am and Friday thru Sunday from 2pm until 6am. The casino features 10 gaming machines and nine poker and table games. For more information, call + 359 2 980 7075.
Casino Memphis (Maria Luisa Boulevard 103, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) Open 24 hours a day, this casino features 15 gaming machines. For more information, call +359 2 931 3030.
Casino Princess (Maria Luisa Boulevard 131, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 100 gaming machines. One restaurant is also on the property. For more information, call +359 2 933 8888.
Casino Rila (6 Kaloyan Street, Hotel Rila, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 10 table games, one restaurant and a hotel. For more information, call +359 2 981 8067.
Hemus Hotel and Casino (31 Cherny vrah Boulevard, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) This casino features 11 table games and 100 gaming machines. For more information, call +359 2 935 633.
Viva! Casino Sofia (5 Sveta Nedelya Square, Sofia, Sofija-Grad, Bulgaria) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 2,831 square feet of gaming space. There are 52 gaming machines and ten table games (Electronic Roulette, Blackjack and American Roulette). There are also three restaurants on the property, one bar and a 188-room hotel. Their website is www.groupviva.com. For general casino information, call +359 2 981 65747.
Astera Casino & Hotel (Anons 94 AD, Zlatni Piasaci, Varna, Bulgaria) There are three restaurants (Mon Ami, Silver Gourmet and Arrogance) on the property, two bars (Lobby Bar and Belleview Bar and Dinner Terrace) and a 203-room hotel. For hotel reservations, call +359 52 356 001.
Casino Cherno More (Hotel Cherno More, 33 Slivniza Boulevard, Varna, Bulgaria) Open daily from 10pm until 3am, this casino has 13 gaming machines, a restaurant and a 216-room hotel. The casino accepts US dollars and the Bulgarian Lev. A dress code is required, and a $2 entrance fee is charged. You must be 18 to enter the casino, and an ID or passport is required. English and Bulgarian are spoken at the casino. For more information, call +359 52 232 115.
Casino International (Zolotye Peski, Varna, Bulgaria) Open daily from noon until 6am, and slot are open 24 hours a day. The casino offers 2,000 square feet of gaming space, plus 157 gaming machines and 16 poker and table games (Blackjack, Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker and Texas Hold‘em). There are three restaurants, two bars and a 139-room hotel. For more information, call +359 52 357 194.
Casino Shipka & Hotel (Hotel Shipka, Zlatni Pyassatzi, Varna, Bulgaria) Open daily from 8pm and 3am, this casino features four table games (American Roulette and Blackjack), one restaurant and a 125-room hotel. Their website is www.goldensands.bg/shipka. For more information, call +359 52 855 524. US and Bulgarian currency is accepted, and a $2 entrance fee is required. There is a city dress code, and you must be 18 to enter the casino (must present an ID or passport). English and Bulgarian are spoken by the casino staff.
Casino Varna & Grand Hotel Varna (Grand Hotel Varna, Station Drouzhba, Varna, Bulgaria) Open Sunday thru Thursday from 8pm until 3am and Friday thru Saturday from 2pm until 5am for table games. For slots, they are open Sunday thru Thursday from noon until 3am and Friday thru Saturday from noon until 5am. The casino has 2,000 square feet of gaming space, with 75 gaming machines and 11 table games (Stud Poker, Punto Banco, Blackjack and American Roulette). There is one restaurant on the property and a 327-room hotel. Their website is clients.tea.bg/gcv/casino.html. For more information, call +359 52 362 831. US and Bulgarian currency is accepted, and both English and Bulgarian are spoken by the casino staff. A dress code is in effect, and you must be 18 years or older to enter (must show ID or passport).
Slot Machines in Bulgaria
Many gaming machines can be found outside the casinos in gaming arcades. The more upscale versions contain up to 50 machines, while the smaller ones may have 10 to 20.
In cities with less than 30,000 people, owners can have a minimum of 10 slots at a facility. If the population is over 30,000, then the minimum must be set at 20 slots.
The most popular games in the gaming arcades are those which feature video reels (or video poker). The games with mechanical reels are only found in tourist destinations.
There are estimated to be around 6,000 gaming machines available for play in the country.
One of the largest local chains is Eldorado, as they operate over 20 locations and provide progressive jackpots, video slots and automatic roulette. Other chains include Queens Club and Blitz Club.
All machines have to pass laboratory tests to ensure their quality, but many machines are also bought in used condition.
Lottery in Bulgaria
The Bulgarian lottery is regulated by the government and known as the Bulgarian State Lottery. Their website is located at www.bglottery.com.
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