The UK-headquartered Bet365 online gambling group has had a first clash in a Bulgarian court this week in its legal challenge to the Bulgarian regulator over a unilaterally revoked licence.
Our readers will recall that the regulator granted the company a licence late 2015, only to rescind it before the paperwork was issued for reasons that are not clear but apparently involve allegations that the company violated certain local gambling laws.
As recently as this February, Bet365 seemed confident that it would be licensed, commenting in a statement that despite some administrative issues and technical difficulties, the company expected to succeed in obtaining licensing.
“We are positive that all the technical obstacles have been overcome and we are confident that Bet365 meets all licensing requirements, including the payment of licence fees totalling more than 500,000 levs (about Euro 255,700),” a company spokesperson said back then.
Estimates based on Bet365’s extensive operating experience in other European Union countries with similar populations and gross domestic product indicated that Bet365 could contribute over 10 million levs to the Bulgarian government’s coffers in its first operational year….yet here we are.
Bet365 claimed that because the licensing process was still in progress it had complied with regulatory requirements that it restrict access to its websites by Bulgarian gamblers.
The Bulgarian regulator has thus far awarded 15 licenses to online operators.
The Administrative Court in Sofia will reconvene to hear further argument on May 5.
Bet365 is also embroiled in litigation with the Romanian regulator, which revoked its interim licence on grounds that it had paid all fees and taxes, but had not halted local operations during the licensing issue standstill period.