Bulgaria Moves to Take Control of Lottery, Boosting Tax Collection

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(Bloomberg) -- Bulgaria is preparing legal amendments take control of lottery gaming, shutting out the current private operators in a bid to improve tax collection.

Parliament’s budget committee on Thursday approved a draft bill banning existing lottery games within three months and allowing only the state-owned Bulgarian Sports Totalizator to organize them.

It puts Bulgarians’ spending on lottery tickets at about 1 billion lev ($510 million) a year -- about 0.8% of economic output.

The amendments, which could still change before final approval, sparked opposition from Vasil Bozhkov, one of Bulgaria’s richest people and the owner of a stake in the country’s biggest gambling company. He called it an attempt to take over his business.

Bulgaria’s financial auditor opened an inquiry into the government’s Gambling Commission on Wednesday, alleging violations and that fees and taxes of at least 210 million lev have been missed from lottery games since 2014.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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