Gambling profits beat the banks in Bulgaria

Gambling profits beat the banks in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian government is doing rather well out of gambling taxation, according to the Sega Daily newspaper...so well that profits declared by gambling companies exceeded those of the entire Bulgarian banking system in 2009.

The newspaper reports that casinos and bingo halls paid BGN 99, 5 million of income tax, while the total contribution of Bulgarian banks to the state budget will be BGN 78 million from their BGN 780 million profit.

Late last year the possibility of raising Bulgaria's tax on gambling to 15 percent from January 2010 was the subject of public debate after a Finance Ministry survey showed that increasing the tax on the pastime was supported by 84 percent of respondents.

Amendments to the Corporate Revenue Act were adopted by Parliament at first reading on November 4 last year and increased the tax rate to 12 percent from 10 percent. But Parliament's budget committee chairperson Menda Stoyanova said that there could be a toughter increase, hinting at a 15 percent benchmark.

Fixed-odds sports betting firm Eurofootball is apparently the main tax contributor, with sports and national lottery bets. The company has protested against tax hikes, claiming that the Bulgarian gambling tax is about five or six times higher than the tax imposed on other commercial entities operating on the Bulgarian market because it is based on turnover, without deducting payment and activity expenses.

The current chairman of the Bulgarian State Gambling Commission is Koloyan Krastev, who was recently appointed by Finance Minister Simeon Djankov. Media reports indicate that the duo were classmates at the English Language High School in Lovech.

Born on February 19, 1970 in Pleven, Krastev has a law degree from Sofia University and previously worked in the legal department of the Bulgarian ING Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts Offices.