The Philippine Star
Scratchcard lottery craze grips Bulgaria
TSURKVA (AFP) — Armed with a coin, 96-yearold Stoyan Stoimenov from this small village outside Sofia hunches over and tries his luck on yet another scratchcard.
“I tell myself: ‘I will win again.’ It’s not very likely but who knows,” he said, winking.
Stoimenov is just one of thousands of Bulgarians who have been gripped by a craze for scratchcards in recent years in the EU’s poorest member state, with some now raising the alarm over the dangers of widespread addiction.
In February, Stoimenov won $3,000 — roughly 25 times his monthly pension — and distributed his prize among his children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. They thanked him by giving him more scratchcards for his 96th birthday on May 6.
In the small café where Stoimenov won his prize, the tables are full of fellow gamblers.
“I sell more scratchcards than anything else,” the girl at the counter says.
Critics say that the law has not kept pace with the explosion of scratchcard gambling, with even children allowed to participate without age restriction.
Some 100 million scratchcards were sold in 2017 in a country of less than seven million people, according to an estimate by Bulgaria’s Capital financial weekly.