December 13, 2022 3 min read


Bulgarian Gambling Industry Proposed Watershed Advertising Ban

A watershed self-restriction on gambling advertising is coming to Bulgaria next year if the proposal made by the Bulgarian Gaming Association (BGA) to the national advertising regulator is approved.

Round Table Discussions

The proposal was made during a round table organized by the Council for Electronic Media (CEM) Tuesday with the participation of the National Revenue Agency (NRA), gambling industry stakeholders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), experts and others.

Participants in the round table agreed that there is a surge in TV advertising of online gambling especially around the broadcasts of matches from the ongoing World Cup, arguing that these ads are necessary to channel people willing to bet toward licensed operators.

Besides the self-imposed watershed restriction on airing gambling advertising from 5a.m. to 6p.m effective January 1, 2023, the BGA’s proposal includes other restrictions related to the content of their gambling advertising campaigns such as mentions of jackpots, money and other material prizes across radio, TV and billboards.

The gambling industry is also ready to stop people under the age of 23 from participating in gambling advertising spots or campaigns and avoid having billboards advertising their products and services in close proximity to schools.

The round table participants agreed on the importance of responsible gambling and the inclusion of the responsible gambling message in every TV or radio advertising spot. Further, industry stakeholders agreed that presenting gambling as a means of solving financial, social, personal or other problems is unacceptable and should be avoided in the future.

Aggressive Ads Should Remain in the Past

On the criticism related to the use of aggressive words urging the public to gamble, the gambling industry body outlined that these messages usually do not come from the licensed operators but from their affiliate partners and that its members agreed to stop collaborating with such partners, which are also responsible for channeling players toward unlicensed operators’ offerings.

Surprisingly, CEM did not come up with any other proposal to tackle aggressive gambling advertising, claiming that it has its hands tied with online advertising. The advertising regulator did not propose law changes either, passing the issue to the parliamentary committee on youth and sports, which will also discuss the topic this week.

The proposal for self-restriction did not satisfy NGO representatives and experts at the round table discussions, who insisted that stringent measures should be taken. Two parental organizations even proposed a blanket ban on gambling advertising.

Other measures put forth included more strict rules for distinguishing land-based gaming venues, raising the age for gambling to 21, mandatory warning implemented in the adverts that gambling may lead to addiction, as well as changes to the Disciplinary Code to include more severe punishments for those who target underage people.

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