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Scratchcard lottery mania grips Bulgaria

George Miller

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Scratchcard lottery mania grips Bulgaria
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Armed with a coin, 96-year-old Stoyan Stoimenov from the small village of Tsurkva outside Sofia hunches over and tries his luck on yet another scratchcard.

I tell myself: ‘I will win again.’ It’s not very likely but who knows,” he says, winking.

Stoimenov is just one of thousands of Bulgarians who have been gripped by a craze for scratchcards in recent years in the EU’s poorest member state, with some now raising the alarm over the dangers of widespread addiction.

In February, Stoimenov won 5,000 leva (2,500 euros, $3,000) — roughly 25 times his monthly pension — and distributed his prize among his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

They thanked him by giving him more scratchcards for his 96th birthday on May 6.

In the small cafe where Stoimenov won his prize, the tables are full of fellow gamblers.

“I sell more scratchcards than anything else,” the girl at the counter says.

Critics say that the law has not kept pace with the explosion of scratchcard gambling, with even children allowed to participate with no age restriction.

“I play from time to time but there’s a boy in my class who does nothing but buy scratchcards,” says 10-year-old Denislav, while buying a two-leva ticket with his daily lunch money.

According to an expert study, commissioned by a government body in July 2016 in Bulgaria’s northwest — the EU’s poorest region — 10 percent of high school students buy scratchcards every day and 11 percent buy them once a week.

– Alarm over ‘epidemic’ –

According to an estimate by Bulgaria’s Capital financial weekly, 100 million scratchcards were sold in 2017 in a country of less than seven million people.

And a Gallup poll carried out in April estimated that 57 percent of Bulgarians participate in some form of gambling. The country is thought by experts to have the second biggest gambling industry in the EU behind Malta.

Adding to the lucrative nature of the business is the fact that the industry enjoys lower tax rates than, for example, tobacco concerns, and Bulgaria is the only EU country where the law doesn’t require lottery companies to donate a certain portion of their profits to good causes.

Some politicians are now pushing for action to curb the phenomenon.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov, deputy chief of the ruling GERB party, warns of “an epidemic among adolescents and people of low social status”.

The gaps in current legislation are illustrated by the rules for gambling advertising.
TV ads for lotteries and scratchcards are technically banned but broadcasters are allowed to show interviews with winners, who enthuse about their prizes of up to 200,000 leva and talk about how they buy a ticket every day with their morning coffee.

The proliferation of scratchcards in cafes, grocery shops and newspaper stands has led Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov to claim that “churches are the only place where you can’t find them”.

Earlier this year, Simeonov proposed changes to gambling laws which are now awaiting parliamentary approval.
They would bring in a ban on announcing lottery draws, prizes or winners on television, as well as banning the sale of scratchcards to minors, and restricting sales to special kiosks.

– ‘Assassination of sport’ –

But the push to toughen up gambling laws has run into some powerful opponents.

The KRIB, Bulgaria’s employers’ federation, has proposed a watered-down version of the changes that would only oblige TV channels to run warnings about the risk of addiction.

KRIB has said it fears Simeonov’s changes would have “grave consequences” for the media and for sports clubs, as well as the 177,000 people employed in the gambling industry.
According to data from Nielsen Admosphere, gambling companies were the biggest advertisers on Bulgarian television in 2017.

The Bulgarian Football Union has also expressed its staunch opposition, reflecting the fact that clubs get much of their sponsorship money from online betting platforms.

Bulgarian football star Hristo Stoichkov — who has himself appeared in ads for online gambling platforms — has been a vocal defender of the industry, going so far as to claim that plans to curb it would mean “the assassination of sport”.

Source: AFP

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Eastern Europe

Superbet Seeks New CEO As Ardeleanu Announces Departure

Niji Narayan

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Superbet Seeks New CEO As Ardeleanu Announces Departure
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Superbet is looking for a new CEO in Romania after confirming the departure of Vlad Ardeleanu from its executive leadership team.

Ardeleanu stated that he had chosen not to participate in Superbet’s next phase of growth and would instead be pursuing entrepreneurial challenges.

Ardeleanu was personally hired by the company founder Sacha Dragic in 2015 and tasked with leading an expansion of Superbet’s retail footprint within Romania.

“We have achieved remarkable successes. The company has grown five times, generating a turnover of 2.8 billion euros in 2019, and is now one of the top ten biggest Romanian companies,” Ardeleanu said.

Hitting peak capacity in its home market, in 2019 US private equity fund Blackstone Group invested €175 million in SuperBet, funding the firm’s ambitions to become the leading CEE markets betting operator.

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Eastern Europe

Kyiv hosted an international esports tournament: WePlay! Mad Moon

George Miller

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Kyiv hosted an international esports tournament: WePlay! Mad Moon
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

On Feb. 19-23 the Ukrainian capital hosted an international esports tournament WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon with a $300,000 prize pool. The event included players from Sweden, Poland, Jordan, Germany, Serbia, Argentina, Peru, and other countries.

Between Feb. 20 and 23, the players competed in front of a live audience at Kyiv concert-hall VDNG (pavilion #9). The residents and guests of the city had an opportunity to attend the event for free and meet esports legends such as Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, and many others.

At the venue, WePlay! Esports and the event partners provided various activities. For example, the visitors could participate in amateur tournaments and win prizes at the WePlay! Tournament Platform stand. After their matches, the professional teams participated in autograph signing sessions.

Now that the tournament has ended, the WePlay! Esports team has received a plethora of positive feedback about the show component of the event. From SFM-clips, augmented reality, music performances, and the atmosphere of cyberpunk, the viewers were delighted by what they saw on live streams and on the stage. The approach to organizing esports events where competitive matches are a part of a show is something we call esportainment.

“Each tournament is another challenge on the quest for our goal — organizing the most popular esports shows in the world. We thrive not only to live up to the expectations of our audience but also to exceed them. WePlay! Mad Moon proved once again that we are on the right path. In March, we will announce a new event plan. Trust me; it will be impressive.”
– Managing Partner of WePlay! Esports Yuriy Lazebnikov

One of the most extraordinary moments of the show happened when teams arrived on stage on board the Madmoontruck. This moment was extensively covered in the press and went viral on social media.

In the finals of WePlay! Mad Moon, champions of the two previous Dota Pro Circuit events went toe to toe in a nail-biter series. Team Secret won the first two games of the best of 5 series, but Team Nigma managed to come back and win the championship.

WePlay! Mad Moon prize pool allocation:

  • 1st Team Nigma — $130,000
  • 2nd Team Secret — $60,000
  • 3rd Virtus.pro — $30,000
  • 4th Gambit Esports — $20,000
  • 5th/6th B8 — $12,000
  • 5th/6th Aggressive Mode — $12,000
  • 7th/8th Infamous — $8,000
  • 7th/8th Ninjas in Pyjamas — $8,000
  • Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi (Team Nigma) won $10,000 as the core MVP
  • Maroun “GH Merhej (Team Nigma) won $10,000 as the support MVP

WePlay! Mad Moon is the final tournament of the Dota 2 Tug of War trilogy series. It also included WePlay! Radiant with a prize pool of $50,000 and WePlay! Dire with a prize pool of $30,000.

According to analytical company Esports Charts, the event attracted 295,110 peak viewers during the series between Team Nigma and Virtus.pro. The official English-speaking broadcast peaked at 91,093 viewers.

“We are happy about breaking yet another record in viewership. The WePlay! Esports team once again organized a show that WOWED! We’ve set the bar even higher for ourselves and esports in general. We will only allow ourselves to get better with time.”
– Business Development Manager компании WePlay! Esports. 

#MadMoon, #WePlayDota2

Source: WePlay! Esports Press Office

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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
Image Source: ozy.com
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

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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