Bulgaria Implements New Legislation for the Gambling Industry

Bulgaria has recently implemented significant changes to its Gambling Act, including a ban on gambling advertisements. These new regulations reflect the country’s intensified focus on regulating the industry.

by Shenaly Amin | 21 Jun 2024
6-min read

Bulgaria has officially enforced significant changes to its Gambling Act, marking the most extensive overhaul of the country's gambling market in nearly a decade. The cornerstone of this new legislation is the ban on gambling advertisements, reflecting Bulgaria's intensified focus on regulating the industry over the past year.

Restrictive New Advertising Regulations

With these new regulations now part of Bulgaria's legislative framework, the ability to promote gambling products has been substantially restricted. Outdoor advertising is strictly limited to billboards, and these advertisements are prohibited from including numbers and bonus promotions to avoid "incentivising players." 

Permissible gambling advertisements must be placed more than 100 meters away from schools and can be displayed on the buildings of gaming halls and casinos. These ads must prominently feature responsible gambling messages, covering at least 10% of the ad space.

In addition to these restrictions, ads are now banned from TV, radio, print, and online platforms. The Council for Electronic Media, Bulgaria's media watchdog, will oversee compliance with these rules. If a violation is found, the Council will notify the National Revenue Agency (NRA), the country’s gambling regulator, which will impose penalties as necessary. Violations of the ban carry significant consequences, including fines of up to BGN 50,000 (€25,570) and potential license revocation for repeat offenders. However, television broadcasts of national sports tote draws are exempt from these regulations.

Changes Ahead for Affiliate Partners

The ban severely limits an affiliate’s ability to promote gambling services through traditional and digital media. This restriction could decrease traffic and revenue generated from gambling-related content. Affiliates will need to explore alternative strategies, such as focusing on markets outside Bulgaria or pivoting to other products and services unaffected by the ban.

The ban's impact on advertising budgets might push companies to reallocate their spending to less regulated channels, such as social networks, potentially offering a new avenue for affiliates. However, this shift comes with challenges, including navigating platform-specific advertising regulations and ensuring compliance with Bulgarian law​.

The decision has ignited substantial backlash from various media groups and gambling industry associations. Critics contend that the ban could drastically reduce media revenue, potentially jeopardising media independence. Furthermore, there are concerns that these restrictions might lead to an increase in illegal gambling activities.

Recent Changes to Gambling Regulations

These measures are part of a broader initiative to tighten gambling regulations in Bulgaria. In August last year, the NRA established a new unit to enforce anti-money laundering requirements, addressing critical issues such as customer verification and transaction monitoring. Additionally, the NRA required that operators prohibit self-excluded staff from entering casinos or gambling halls.

With these comprehensive reforms, Bulgaria aims to create a safer and more responsible gambling environment for its citizens. The new legislation represents a decisive step towards tighter regulation and greater oversight of the gambling industry in the country.

Regulatory trends around the globe 

Bulgaria is not alone in its efforts to ban gambling advertisements. Several countries, including Belgium, Poland, and Italy, have implemented complete bans. The movement gained momentum when the Netherlands' Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), published its 2023 figures, showing that its advertising ban led to a 28% growth in iGaming gross gaming results, totalling €1.39 billion ($1.51 billion). Following this, the London Assembly Health Committee advocated for a total ban on gambling advertisements across the Transport for London (TfL) network.

Romania Adopts an Alternative Approach

In 2022 a draft law proposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising (e.g., outdoor, online, television, etc.). After some discussion, the Senators removed this provision, arguing that a broad prohibition would negatively affect budget revenues from taxes and levies collected from gambling operators and third-party service providers in the industry.

In the version adopted by the Senate, the Draft Law introduced key changes to gambling advertisements: limiting outdoor ads to 30 square meters and banning prize promotions; restricting TV ads to the 06:00-23:00 interval only during live sports events with stringent conditions; and prohibiting public figures from endorsing gambling. Additionally, all ads must display a "Play responsibly" message, with specific duration limits during broadcasts.

Advertising regulations in Scandinavia

In Norway, advertising gambling is permitted, but there is a standard ban on ads targeting minors. On May 12, 2020, Parliament amended the Broadcasting Act to restrict illegal gambling ads on TV and audiovisual media, effective January 1, 2021 (Art.11 Lotteries Act; Gaming Authority Guidelines).

Similarly, Sweden allows gambling industry advertising but also bans ads directed at minors.

Iceland and Finland have implemented partial bans on gambling advertising. In Iceland, ads must be in Icelandic and reflect commercial interests. Finnish legislation prohibits gambling ads on radio, television, and cinematic programs, particularly those targeting minors. Advertising is generally banned across Finland, except in specialised venues such as arcades, casinos, and hippodromes.

In Denmark, gambling advertising is allowed, provided it does not contain invitations to participate in gambling or visit gambling establishments. Ads must not promise improvements in social status or success.

The Baltic nations

The Baltic countries exhibit similar trends in regulating gambling advertising. Of the three Baltic nations, only Latvia has implemented a general ban.

Latvian legislation prohibits advertising gambling outside of gambling establishments, including on the Internet.

Estonia enforces a partial ban on gambling ads. Advertisements must not contain any invitations to participate in gambling or visit gambling establishments. They also must not include guarantees or promises to improve the social status or financial position of industry clients. While advertising for gambling (excluding toto, lotteries, sweepstakes, betting, and games of skill) is generally prohibited, there are exceptions allowed by law. 

South-Eastern Europe and Asia 

The regulation of gambling advertising in South-Eastern Europe and Asia varies significantly by country, each with its own policies.

In Georgia and Azerbaijan, gambling advertisements are strictly prohibited. In contrast, Turkey enforces a partial ban, disallowing gambling ads, fixed odds, joint bets, and sports-based gambling ads. Armenia also has a partial ban, restricting gambling ads (except for lotteries) on TV, radio, and the Internet, with additional limitations on outdoor ads near gambling establishments.

The Republic of Cyprus bans casino ads on radio and TV from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., prohibits gambling ads during children's programs, and restricts the use of famous personalities to endorse gambling. 
Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina allow gambling advertising but restrict ads targeting minors. Kosovo and Albania have more stringent bans, prohibiting most forms of gambling advertising, especially in media.

In Western Europe, countries like Switzerland and France permit gambling advertising, restricting only ads aimed at minors. Austria and Spain allow ads with conditions: Austria mandates a "responsible approach," while Spain enforces consumer protection and responsible gambling practices, including limited ad display times.

Portugal enforces a partial ban on gambling advertising. General restrictions include a ban on ads targeting minors and vulnerable people. Commercial advertisements must display "18+" warnings, and gambling ads are prohibited on TV and radio from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Advertisers must also restrict minors' access to social media ads.

Italy imposed a blanket ban as part of the updated Dignity decree in 2019. ​​The ban covers any form of advertising, including indirect advertising, relating to games or betting with cash prizes, carried out and by any means, including TV and radio broadcasting, the press, billboards, the internet, digital and electronic tools, and social media. 


Global legislation on gambling advertising varies widely. Some countries enforce strict regulations, completely banning advertising for gambling operators and entities. Others implement partial bans, allowing some advertising but with significant restrictions. These often limit the use of the Internet, television, and other mass media to criteria set by local regulators.

Implementing stringent gambling advertising bans is becoming increasingly prevalent across Europe. Countries like Italy and Spain have already introduced comprehensive restrictions on gambling ads to curb addiction and protect vulnerable populations. These measures reflect a growing recognition of the social harms associated with gambling and a collective effort to address these issues through tighter regulations. 
As more countries adopt similar bans, the gambling industry and its affiliates may need to reconsider their marketing strategies and adapt to a more regulated landscape​. 

by Shenaly Amin
21 Jun 2024

Shenaly heads the Marketing team at Rightlander.