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Casino Tourism

More and more tourists and locals alike are choosing to spend their big night out at the casino. In fact, this newer form of recreation has taken the Bulgarian tourist industry by storm and has lead to an increase in the number of Casinos across the country. It was not so long ago that a night at the casino was once considered a leisure pursuit for the rich and famous, however casino tourism has entered the domain of the average holiday maker and the days when gambling was pursued by the law as a criminal offence have long gone.

Today, casinos are accessible to anyone over the age of 18; they exist in every resort, city in particular in Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv and are now sprouting up in smaller towns all over the country.

In a recent debate in Bulgaria’s parliament many politicians maintained the view that “Gambling has to be banned and the state should put an end to making revenues on the weaknesses of people.” However the majority vote overruled the motion to increase taxes on gambling. Casino tourism has boomed over the last four years and the growth in the number of establishments offering gaming facilities has expanded considerably.

Bulgaria’s casinos attract both the local population as well as tourists particularly those from Israel and Turkey, where gambling is banned. Each casino tends to have live games with around five gaming tables with the most popular games being Black Jack, Roulette and Poker. Each casino provides a good selection of gaming machines, which are generally housed in locations away from the live games. The number of machines in each casino is calculated according the population in the area; in cities with a population fewer than 30,000 casino owners may only install up to 10 slot machines. In the capital, the most prominent hotels, which rely heavily on revenue from gaming, are the Hemus, Rila and Rodina. Several hotels on the Black Sea coast also rely heavily on their gaming business.

The largest casino operator in Bulgaria is Princess, the Turkish entertainment group, which owns three of the country’s largest casinos. Other large operators in the market are Eldorado with over 20 casinos, the bookmakers Eurofutbol and Multigroup. The rules about gaming equipment are strict in Bulgaria with all equipment having to pass various tests to comply with the Gaming Laboratory. Payback percentages in Bulgarian casinos obviously vary and by law it may not be less than 80%.

The future development of Bulgaria’s gaming industry looks bright. The government and the Agency for State Tourism both support the development of Casino Tourism and are putting strict laws in place to combat organized crime in this area as well as to regulate gambling with respect to tourism.

Black Jack picture courtesy of Ben Stanfield