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Romania bans slots machines in Small Towns

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The Romanian parliament voted on implementing a series of strict gambling measures, which include the ban of slot machines from small towns and villages.

The Government Emergency Ordinance 82/2023 was approved by the Parliament with some modifications. The law is in effect since October 6, 2023.

Slot machines are only allowed in localities with a population greater than 15,000. This effectively bans slot machines from sparsely-populated areas.

The approval of this ordinance is part of the legislative process in Romania. The government did not pass a law through the parliament but instead issued an urgent ordinance which was implemented the same day as it was presented. This ordinance required approval by the parliament, and this was done this week.

The ordinance can be approved by the Parliament in its entirety, with or without amendments. The ordinance will no longer be effective if it is rejected.

Now, the law has been sent to Klaus Iohannis. The law is now with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis.

It is stated in the law that it enters into force 10 days after its publication.

What are the major amendments?

Simion and Baciu, a Romanian law firm, says that the restrictions on slot machines may cause further problems for Romania’s land-based gaming industry.

The firm said to iGB that this is a major change in the market for land-based gambling, which will prohibit the use of slot machines in small towns and rural areas. The governing coalition has raised this issue in several recent public discussions.

The coalition is waiting to see the reaction of the gambling industry to the ‘unannounced’ changes. They want to know if they can move ahead with restrictions on the land-based sector, like moving gaming halls to the periphery.

The amendments are all included in the draft law for the ordinance approval. Six amendments are included, including the restriction on slot machines.

GEO 82/2023 proposes that ONJN, Romania’s regulator, create a register of information on licensed operators. The information would be based on the physical location of each operator and their gaming machine data.

A proposed amendment would take this even further and require that the registry be updated at least every 24 hours. It also suggests B2B licensees and B2C licencees to send these data every 24 hours to ONJN. If this is not done, licensees could face a fine ranging between RON100,000 and RON150,000 (EUR17,213/PS25,819/EUR20,118 and EUR30,178/$21,603/$32,404).

Igaming could be included in the advertising rules

GEO 82/2023 states that the maximum size of an outdoor billboard for gambling advertisements is 35sqm. A proposed amendment would allow this to apply also to online gambling ads.

A second proposal proposes a fine to be imposed on suppliers who provide services to Romanian companies without a licence of Class 1, if the Romanian citizens are still allowed to gamble. The fine can range from RON150,000 to RON200,000.

The two amendments clarify joint venture operations. GEO 82/2023 stipulates that only the following persons can manage joint gambling operations:

  • Class 1 license operators or
  • Unlicensed operators that are “under the common control” (common control) of a licenced operator

A new amendment states that the operators of a joint venture must have a licence from Class 1, Class 2, or both.

Simion, Baciu and others commented that at first glance it appears the new draft law contradicts the GEO 82/2023 logic regarding joint ventures. While GEO 82/2023 set out the “common-control” rule between the licensee and unlicensed partners, the new draft law states that the entire operation must be governed by a license.

In the final amendment, it is suggested that ONJN clarify what constitutes joint venture operations. The clarification should be issued within 90 days after the ordinance comes into effect.

In October 2023, the Romanian government approved new gambling measures. The new license fees included EUR500,000 in online gambling, EUR200,000 in lottery, and EUR200,000 fixed odds betting.

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