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Bulgarian Ministry of Finance Unveils New Gaming Commission Panel

Niji Narayan

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Bulgarian Ministry of Finance Unveils New Gaming Commission Panel
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The Bulgarian Ministry of Finance has appointed Georgi Yordanov as temporary chairman of the country’s State Gambling Commission (SCC) following the resignation of Alexander Georgiev.

Yordanov most recently served as Chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Finance, a role he had held since November 2014. Prior to this, he was head of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Environment and Water and also spent time as a state inspector at the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Finance. Earlier in his career, he was Director of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Chief Secretary of the National Plant Protection Service.

The appointment comes after Georgiev, who was named chairman of the SCC in April 2019, resigned from the role last week following his detention by police in relation to an ongoing investigation into gambling mogul Vasil Bozhkov.

In addition to the temporary appointment of Yordanov, the Ministry of Finance has made several other changes to the composition of the SCC. Stoyan Stoyanov, Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Justice; Paun Ilchev, acting chairman of the Bulgarian Institute of Metrology; Krasimir Boyadzhiev, head of the Special Investigation Unit, Control Directorate at the National Revenue Agency; and Emil Zahariev, director of the Specialised Directorate at SANS, will now all work with the regulator.

Balkans

Lafka Market Stops Operations After Bulgaria’s Gambling Law Changes

Niji Narayan

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Lafka Market Stops Operations After Bulgaria’s Gambling Law Changes
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Changes in Bulgaria’s gambling law have caused the major local retailer Lafka Market to close its operations because of the loss of private lottery revenues.

Last week, the Bulgaria State Gambling Commission (BGC) issued a statement announcing the formal imposition of the new laws of the country restricting lottery operations to those run by the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator. Other lotteries were ordered to “cease the distribution and sale of tickets, coupons, cards or other tokens” related to private lottery operators and, in the presence of BGC staff, destroy all unsold tickets by the end of the year.

Lafka Market, which boasting around 1100 retail locations across the country, announced that it will shut down its operations. Lafka said it generated revenue of BGN240 m (US$ 133.2 m) in 2018 but much of that revenue was obtained through sales of products issued by the privately-run National Lottery and Lottery Bulgaria.

Bulgaria might have limited its lottery operations to the state but the country has made no move to revoke the licences it issued to several private online gambling operators, including familiar Western brands such as Bet365, Betfair, Bwin and PokerStars.

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Balkans

Albanian Police Crackdown on Betting Shops

Niji Narayan

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Albanian Police Crackdown on Betting Shops
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Albanian police have cracked down on people operating illegal betting shops. More than 1500 police took part in the operation in Tirana and seven other cities.

Police arrested 115 people and 26 others are being investigated. They are the owners, managers or employees of the shops. Police also seized 17.2 million leks ($150,000) and hundreds of computers and other electronic devices.

In 2018, Albania’s parliament voted to remove gambling from residential areas to curb its spread. Casinos are now only allowed in a few large hotels, while there are no legal shops taking bets on sports and racing.

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Balkans

Bulgaria Asks UAE for Extradition of Gambling Tycoon Vasil Bozhkov

Niji Narayan

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Bulgaria Asks UAE for Extradition of Gambling Tycoon Vasil Bozhkov
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Bulgaria’s ministry of justice has requested the United Arab Emirates to extradite gambling tycoon Vasil Bozhkov, who was charged in absentia with extortion, influence peddling and money laundering among other offences. Bozhkov was detained in the United Arab Emirates at the end of January.

The justice ministry said it had sent the extradition request and more than 200 pages of documents translated in Arabic to the Bulgarian embassy in the UAE to be handed to the authorities.

Bulgaria does not have an extradition agreement with the UAE, but hopes that its request will be respected.

“We want him returned to Bulgaria to be brought before the Bulgarian court,” Bulgarian chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev said.

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