Bulgarian poker legend Bozhkov faces extortion charges

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Vasil Bozhkov is one of Bulgaria’s richest men and is famous worldwide for his outstanding poker skills. Recently it became public that Bozhkov is facing jail time because of the charges for extortion and attempted bribery, along with some other crimes. According to Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev, the gambler has been charger in absentia on a total of 7 charges, which aside from extortion include organizing a crime group and incitement to commit criminal offenses. He hasn’t been arrested yet, but as the prosecutor shared with the media and European arrest warrant has been issued for Bozhkov. 

Who is Bozhkov?

63-year-old gambling legend, Bozhkov has been on top of Bosnia’s gaming industry since the early 1990s’ and is said to be work over $1.3 billion. Over the years in the industry, he purchased many gambling companies as well as two of the most popular soccer clubs in the Black Sea. According to various sources, Bezhkov is also interested in antiques and paintings and has an extensive collection of those as well. Bozkhov has already spoken about the charges, tuning in on the live tv from the “non-European Union” country an said that around the time he left Bosnia no one was looking for him and he alluded that this investigation was nothing but a violation of his rights and of the law. 

 Gambling scene took off after the dissolution of the soviet union and it hasn’t really died down since. Bozhkov has shares in many countries casinos and helped popularize poker in the 90’s. He has played in almost every country of the world, across europe, in casino ottawa, and even Asia. 

Gambling is a huge part of Bosnia’s entertainment scene since the country has somewhat lenient regulations and does not limit the gamblers or the providers all that much, at least compared to other European countries. This is why there are so many casinos and gambling venus, both online and offline, quite an impressive number of those belonging to players in question.


This is why Bozhkov decided to stay within his own country hen it came to a business decision and while he is involved in international business and companies as well, his main income comes from Bulgaria and the casinos that operate under him.

Bosnia’s gambling scene

Bosnia is no stranger to corruption and aversion to the law. The country became a member of the Europen Union in 2007 and since then has been trying to combat corruption and illegal activity in the country but so far it hasn’t done a great job, which the Union keeps calling out. Bozhkov has denied all allegation about him breaching the law and said that would be willing to show to an integration, even tho he has done nothing wrong. Meanwhile according to Bosnia’s prosecutor at least 16 people were recently detailed in connection to the case against Bezhkov. Among them is the head of the state gambling commission, along with executives of companies owned by Bozhkov.

Not much is known about the investigation but according to the prosecutor, the case is in connection with the allegations of serious financial violation in the gambling industry, tied with tax aversion of up to 210 million levs, starting from 2014. While Bozhkov is suggesting that in case there really is the proof of tax aversion that he should be charged accordingly but should avoid any jail time or court hearing but the prosecutor seems determined to catch the poker legend and to take him to court.

Future of the trial

As Geshev said in the interview, Bozhkov is an old-school oligarch that is trying to avoid the law.

The Allegations around Bezhkov have been floating around since 2005 when the U.S diplomats alleged that the poker player has been involved in multiple crime and money laundering schemes along with extortion and intimidation.

Bezkhov’s past is full of mystery and the authorities have been trying to decode it for years. It seems like the government finally has some tangible proof and could take the Bosnian player to the court. 

Whether it can be proved is a different story but Bezhkov has been involved with some similar cases as well, one of his partners in the business, Ilya Pavlov, getting shot after testifying in the murder trial of Andrey Lukanov, the former Bulgarian president.

While the player seems eager to collaborate he still hasn’t shown up back in his own country which raises suspicions that he, in fact, might be tied to some serious criminal activity.

Considering the fact the Bezhkov is outside of the European Union, it’s not likely that the government or the jurisdiction might be able to do much and it will have to try really hard to get the trial off the ground.


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