June 19, 2024 2 min read

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Bulgaria’s Gambling Sector Records Unprecedented Surge

Most metrics improved significantly, showcasing a thriving gaming sector with a growing player base

Licensed gambling operators in Bulgaria have paid out BGN 5.79 billion ($3.18 billion) to winning players in 2023, significantly surpassing last year’s results and highlighting the untapped potential of the country’s gaming sector. This data was made available by the National Revenue Agency (NRA) after a Freedom of Information request by local news outlet Mediapool.

Figures Smashed Pre-COVID Levels

The NRA data shows a substantial increase in gambling payouts compared to 2022, with a remarkable growth rate of nearly 147%. In 2022, the total amount of winnings exceeding BGN 5,000 ($2,750) stood at BGN 2.34 billion ($1.29 billion), illustrating the rapid expansion of the gambling market despite the government’s recent attempts to reign in advertisements.

Bulgarian operators distributed payouts of BGN 5.79 billion among 120,853 local individuals, averaging BGN 47,909 ($26,332) per winner for 2023. This sum marks a significant rise from pre-COVID levels, as 2017 saw BGN 627 million ($344.5 million) paid out to 13,447 individuals. Such figures indicate that the number of players receiving large gambling winnings has increased nearly ninefold in six years.

By law, gambling operators in Bulgaria must report all player winnings exceeding BGN 5,000, providing a rough estimation of the state of the industry. The Balkan nation remains a lucrative market that has reached a tentative equilibrium. Retail and online operators coexist within their respective niches, and competition has mostly settled down to several high-profile gambling companies.

Responsible Gaming Remains a Pressing Concern

Despite robust financial results, 2024 has been tumultuous for Bulgarian operators. May saw the government partially ban gambling ads, prohibiting casinos in underpopulated areas and barring operators from promoting their products across all forms of media. These measures have been controversial but should not significantly impact the sector’s profitability.

Tihomir Bezlov, an expert at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), noted that the ongoing market expansion would likely make Bulgaria a European leader in GDP per capita derived from gambling. He highlighted the need for increased oversight by the government to address the rising gambling harm risks associated with a surging industry.

The numbers are very surprising and highlight the gambling market’s massive surge.

Tihomir Bezlov, CSD expert

As Bulgaria’s gaming industry remains on the rise, stakeholders must address the challenges and opportunities it presents. The NRA’s data underscores the need for balanced regulation and responsible gambling practices. A thriving sector with a broadening base of participants may benefit the economy, but only if players are adequately protected.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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