Date: 05.04.2024

by Kajetan Sawicz

Bulgarian Parliament Dismisses Gambling Act Amendments Amidst Heated Debates

In a significant development within Bulgarian politics, proposed amendments to the country’s Gambling Act, primarily aimed at tightening restrictions on gambling advertisements, were rejected by the Bulgarian Parliament. The rejection came amidst a contentious debate, highlighting deep divisions among political factions on how to address the societal impacts of gambling.

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Political Divisions and Societal Concerns

The amendments, introduced by Kostadin Kostadinov of the Vazrazhdane party, faced a steep uphill battle, ultimately failing with a vote count of 67 against and 29 in favor, with 79 abstentions. The proposal received backing from Vazrazhdane, BSP for Bulgaria, and There Is Such a People, all of whom criticized opposing parties GERB and Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria for allegedly prioritizing gambling industry interests over public welfare.

Proponents of the amendments argued for the necessity of stricter regulations on gambling advertisements, enhanced control mechanisms, and a more robust support system for individuals struggling with gambling addiction. They advocated for punitive measures against media outlets that circumvent advertising restrictions, emphasizing the widespread impact of gambling addiction on Bulgarian families.

Opposition and Concerns Over Sporting Institutions

Rumen Gechev of BSP for Bulgaria went a step further, calling for a complete ban on gambling within the nation. He highlighted the pervasive nature of gambling advertisements, especially in digital spaces frequented by the younger population, underscoring the urgent need for legislative action.

Opponents of the amendments, particularly from the GERB-UDF coalition, expressed concerns about the potential unintended consequences of such regulations, particularly their impact on municipal sports institutions. Lyuben Dilov of GERB-UDF cautioned against oversimplification of addiction issues, arguing that a total ban on gambling advertisements would fail to address the deeper, underlying causes of addiction.

Our Comment on the Article

The Bulgarian Parliament’s rejection of the proposed amendments to the Gambling Act highlights the complex and multifaceted nature of gambling regulation and its societal implications. While the intent behind the amendments is to mitigate the harmful effects of gambling addiction, the debate reveals a broader conversation about the balance between regulation, individual freedom, and the economic realities of the gambling industry. As Bulgaria grapples with these issues, it will be essential to find a middle ground that respects the concerns of all stakeholders while effectively addressing the challenges posed by gambling in society.