Experts from the gaming industry discussed the challenges and opportunities in the Balkans

This year Bulgaria is counting already sixth autumns since the Eastern European Gaming Summit announced the dates for the first international conference dedicated to the gaming industry on the Balkans.
While some of attendees were curiously observing the gaming industry in the South Eastern Europe, we truly believe that there was also something to suggest to those, interested in latest developments from the rest of Europe, US and even Russia. Last year there were initiated two parallel to the EEGS events: the Regulators round table and an open discussion of the local casino operators with the Bulgarian regulator. This year both events were held once again under the aegis of Bulgarian State Commission on Gambling.
It should be admitted that every year the region is bringing something quite unexpected, sometimes even radical, with a hint of obscurity. But we also should agree that the representatives from the region every year are attending the Summit to give attendees the latest updates and solutions on the gaming market developments along with valuable suggestions how to proceed further.
On the focus of this year conference were topics covering the changing gaming standards in Bulgaria and Europe, affected by the new technologies and online gaming, the challenges and cooperation between institutions following the priorities of EU. In the discussions tool part leading experts and representatives of prestigious international gaming institutions such as: International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), European Sports Security Association (ESSA), Remote Gaming Association (RGA), Gaming Regulators and Associations from the region.
The conference was opened by Morten Ronde, Chief Executive, Danish Online Gaming Association, who made a review on the gaming regulations in Europe and outlined the prospects and their developments. He remarked that 2012 was disappointing in this respect, despite some of the positive signals.
Angel Iribozov, the Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Gaming Association stated that in 2012 the gaming industry in Bulgaria brought to the state budget over 120 million BGN incomes. Meanwhile the sector shrank with nearly 45 % as a result of the increased taxes and requirements. This led to the closing or reduction of operations of many gaming halls. Mr. Iribozov also noted that the higher taxes did not lead to the desired increase of revenues, as expected.
This year’s topic for the Eastern Europe was extended with the aspects of the online gaming, and the speakers confidently expressed their opinion, that Bulgaria has potential to become a leader of the online gaming in the region as it has comprehensive gaming traditions.
“Competitive environment is a key to success”, shared Joseph Borg, Senior Advisor, WH Partners adding that blacklists and blocking of the illegal websites actually do not work. Meanwhile Sue Rossiter, Director Projects and Policy, Remote Gaming Association, underlined that tax rate and license fee are the main problems stopping development of the gaming market.
Let’s lift slightly the curtain… Associations’ panel:

  • When Sportingbet gave up cooperation with Serbian State lottery more efficient actions against black market were undertaken.
  • Following the recent developments in the gaming market in Greece, each attendees were curious to hear about the future prospects.
  • Not leaving behind the latest developments, where The Bulgarian State Commission on Gambling undertook strict measures against the online operators in the enforcement of the new Gambling Act, this was the opportunity to follow the hot debate and its various aspects and perspectives.
  • Each day Croatia awaits a Draft of the new gaming law and attendees were able to discuss tête-à-tête the anticipated future of the gaming industry in the country.
  • The new grounded Romanian Office for Gambling shared their plans on gaming law and regulated market.
  • F.Y.R. of Macedonian online market is waiting the door for online betting and gambling finally to be open. After last activity of national lottery with finished public call for partner, online gambling will be finally a fact.

Experts’ panel – Major issues gaming industry is facing today. Which initiatives can we expect from the new action plan? What’s next on the EU Agenda? Challenges in regulation and co-operation: sharing advantages and experiences in regards to online gambling. Can European jurisdictions offer valuable experience to North American jurisdictions? What are the priorities of the enhanced co-operation? Can online operators be regulated on the same model as land based operators?

Country review – Based on the experience of the current regulated on-line gaming jurisdictions around the world we will look at the guiding principles to define the best regulatory framework for your jurisdiction. How to be a constructive, supportive and enabling jurisdiction and to avoid the pitfalls of overregulation while still maintaining fairness, safety and player protection?

Regulators’ panel – Latest insights into the legislative developments in the Eastern Europe. Is there green light for the online operators to enter the Eastern European markets or not yet?

Second day of the Summit was dedicated to casino operators where first part of the day was focused on the social responsibility of the gaming industry bringing the examples from The Netherlands and Casinos Austria, meanwhile second part presented workshop for Casino Management Systems