On Wednesday, February 24th, Romania's Government has finalised and adopted detailed technical and operational regulations for the gambling industry regarding both online and land-based companies. The revamped legislation, published by ONJN (Oficiul Național pentru Jocuri de Noroc) on Monday, 29th February, sets the rules and regulations which operators must comply with in order to obtain a licence and authorisation and to ensure the good development of their remote or land-based operation.
Regarding remote gambling, the ONJN has stated that operators wishing to offer their services to Romanian gamblers must be residents of Romania, EU or EEA, they must obtain the relevant licences and authorisations from the ONJN, and they must appoint a local authorised representative to deal with the competent authorities in the country.
The gaming and iGaming licences are granted individually for a 10-year period, and they are non-transferable between operators. For temporary games, the licence and authorisation are granted for a period of 3 months. Once the certification has been obtained, it must be displayed either on the operators' website or in their land-based venue.
There is also a requirement that the value of stakes, the prizes for games and the value of prizes for those games that need to have a minimum payout percentage out of the total gains, be clearly displayed in Romanian language in prominent places. The stakes and limits are established both for slot machines and for AWP (Amusement with Prizes) machines. Moreover, the normative document also establishes minimum win percentages for these games in order to assure gamblers of a certain benefit.
The decision mentions also clear timetables for the paying of taxes and obligations to the state budget, as well as payment options available to the companies. The sanctions applicable to operators who do not respect the regulations are also listed, the fines ranging from RON 10,000 to RON 50,000 (approximately EUR 2,000 to EUR 11,000) depending on the contravention and on the consequences thereof. Nonetheless, if such operators provide payment within 48 hours, they will only need to pay half of the fee. Depending on the seriousness of the act, other sanctions, such as temporary suspension of licence for up to 6 months, may also apply.
Reference is further being made to the blacklist which has been compiled, with more than 500 illegal online operators already on it. The Romanian internet service providers have the obligation to block access to all the names found on the blacklist. In what concerns land-based gambling, the ONJN has a centralised information system which allows it to monitor for example slots machines or betting operations at all times, making the organising of illicit activities practically impossible. This centralised information system for land-based venues, together with the blacklisting of illegal online operators is especially opportune as it helps create a transparent industry which will benefit both operators and gamblers.
One important point in the regulation is related to the promotional material operators are using to further their business. This must be done in strict compliance with the principles regarding the protection of minors. Thus, no adverts or other marketing material must be displayed nearby schools, socio-cultural or religious establishments and such material must specifically forbid the participation of minors in gambling activities.
Another important provision of the legislation mentions the initiative to establish a foundation for social responsibility and a fund for the prevention and combating of gambling addiction, this being an area that has received increased attention over the years. Important organisations such as The Slots Organisers' Association ROMSLOT (Asociația Organizatorilor de Sloturi) and Romanian Bookmakers, which is the association of Romanian sports betting operators, already support the development of a similar programme Joc Responsabil" (Responsible Gambling), aimed at offering as much assistance and help as possible to those fighting with gambling addiction. The legal requirement that operators must support such foundations, as well as the demand that all gambling websites display their policy related to gambling addiction and allow access to a self-assessment tool, represent an important step further in modernising Romanian online gambling and changing the negative view that some still have of it.
The undergoing changes in legislation have been a direct consequence for the Romanian National Lottery's decision of suspending pool betting services across the country. The National Lottery has announced on its official website that it will temporarily suspend its Pronosport and Prono_S services until the relevant licences and authorisations will be obtained as per the new amendments to OUG 77/2009. On the 29th February, The National Lottery has assured its customers that the necessary applications for the said licences have already been submitted to the ONJN so that they can continue offering its services to punters in the shortest time possible.
On the 1st of March, The Romanian National Lottery has apologised to customers for this delay and has officially declared that Pronosport and Prono_S will be resuming their games as of Monday, the 7th of March. They have also added that details regarding upcoming competitions can be found at the lottery agencies, on the official website www.loto.ro and in the "Loto Prono" magazine.
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