Bulgaria Adds PokerStars and Other Online Poker Websites to Blacklist

Earlier this month, the Bulgaria State Gambling Commission (SGC) disclosed a list of 22 blacklisted offshore online gambling websites that failed to secure a gambling license and to pay the required tax on revenues, as prescribed under the country’s new Gambling Act.

Although the initial list released did not include online poker websites, the SGC updated its online gambling blacklist last Monday, by adding PokerStars.bg (Bulgaria), PokerStars.com, PartyPoker.com, FulltiltPoker.com and PokerTime.Eu.

The exclusion of online poker sites from the initial list, raised hopes of possible exemption from the 2011 amendment, as the Act’s definition of gambling games referred to “games based on luck in which one makes a stake and can either win or lose”.

The new law further stated that games with entertaining or sports characteristics, as well as requiring some knowledge and skills to win and not chiefly dependent on luck, are non-gambling games.

However, the exception to such definitions is that the Act will treat such games as gambling if these are organized online or through the Internet and other electronic communication devices.

PokerStars’ inclusion in Bulgaria’s blacklist could prove to be another snag in its bid to secure a license application in New Jersey. Even if the online poker website’s parent company, Rational Group, succeeds in entering into another Atlantic City casino partnership, or in reinstating the failed deal with Atlantic Club casino, there is still the matter of meeting the bar set by NJ regulators. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement intends to approve as casino Web Partners, only those that meet “the highest standards of integrity.”