27 Jul, 2022
Although the Romanian authorities have always been loyal to gambling, and in 2015-2016 radical changes were made to gambling legislation, which contributed to the development and regulation of the industry in the country.
As a result of a number of changes, the current Romanian government has decided to strike a blow to the orderly market. Parliament has decided to introduce changes in the gambling legislation. This fact will be unprofitable for the Romanian economy and harmful for the gambling industry in the future. If the new regulation is approved, there will be no major players left in the Romanian market, which will have a negative impact on the income of Romanian operators and their future existence within the legal framework.
Romania has a long history of legalizing gambling. The first national lottery in the country, Lottery Romana, appeared as early as 1906. Gambling was banned under Nicolae Ceausescu. However, in 1990, after the overthrow of his government, the government chose the right policy and the gambling business became legal again. Already in 1991, the first casino appeared in the country, which was founded by the Austrian company Casino Austria. From this moment, the active development of the gaming industry in Romania began:
• In 1992, the work of the gaming business commission was organized. The department was entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the activities of all land-based casinos in the country.
• 1993 - Law on taxation of gaming establishments was adopted
• 1998 - compulsory licensing was introduced. The provisions are contained in the Law "On Regulation of Gaming Business".
• 1999 - Requirements were introduced for sites and buildings used for casino organization
• 2003 - The government developed a scheme to attract foreign investments. The activity of a bookmaker who accepts sports bets is allowed.
Of course, the Romanian state has benefited greatly from full legalization, as the developed gambling industry is an additional source of income for the state budget. which further contributes to the development of the country's infrastructure. Especially when tourism is one of the priority sectors of the country.
Today, the activities of land-based gaming establishments are governed by nearly a dozen official laws, ordinances, and regulations. In addition, there are additional instructions, orders, decisions presented by the National Gaming Office. All of which contribute to the legal development of business, the promotion of local operators, the attraction of new investments and the entry of illegal foreign operators into the Romanian market.
What will be the reality in Romania if the new bill they are working on now comes into force?
Arguments that politicians will later use to justify their damaging idea will certainly not be relevant. We all know very well that along with the development of digital technologies, online technologies are also developing, including online gambling. Online gambling became much more popular during the pandemic when people could not leave their homes. Online gambling is a much more controlled area than offline, for one simple reason, there is no direct contact between the customer and the operator's representative, and every transaction, from placing a bet to withdrawing money, is cumbersome. Therefore, I consider irrelevant the argument that only online games should be taxed. Therefore, there is a doubt whether there is any corrupt deal between land casinos and the bill's butchers, are they protecting someone's particular interests?
However, it is a big mistake to think that big online players will switch from online to land based casinos because they will have a big fee. There are many examples of governments changing their approach to gambling companies and raising taxes or imposing stricter regulations on gambling companies. Improper and incompetent regulations always have damaging consequences for the country.
What does this bill serve? Romania will face the reality that big players will slowly move to illegal foreign sites. We also know very well that in the age of advanced technologies, it will be virtually impossible to block illegal operators, both in terms of transactions and advertising. As a result, Romania will soon face an exodus of major online players, which will certainly be detrimental not only to the industry, but also to the social background of the country. This will be a kind of encouragement to criminals in the country, we are talking about economic crimes.
Also completely incredible and comical is the date of entry into force of the new draft law - August 1st. It is clear that the people working on the mentioned bill have no idea about gaming business. They don't realize the difficulties they can face and how much resources it takes to make changes for any company.
It is unfortunate when a legal and regulated field, as a result of incompetent decisions, faces great challenges and dangers. The Romanian state should carefully analyze what the country will get with the new draft law and whether such radical and damaging changes are worth it.