Romania: Amendments of the Romanian Gambling Law published at the close of 2014

Just before we say goodbye to 2014, the Romanian Government has passed the Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014 (“GEO 92/2014”) which amends Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 (“GEO 77/2009“), the main piece of legislation on gambling in Romania. GEO 92/2014 has been published today in the Official Gazette of Romania.

The new piece of legislation targets the amendments of the conditions that must be fulfilled in order to apply for a gambling license, including directly by EU legal entities who hold a gambling license to operate remote gambling activities in another EU member state, or a state from the EEA Space or the Swiss Confederation. The new rules provide for better protection for minors and addicted persons, as well as for significant changes to the level of taxation and authorisation fees.

The 25% income tax universal quota, previously in force, has been lowered to 1% for all players revenues in excess of RON 600, 16% for revenues higher than EUR 15,000. Revenues higher than EUR 100,000 shall still be subject to a 25% tax rate.  For online gambling operators this is no longer a withholding tax.

In what concerns the fees for remote gambling operators, the law differentiates between gambling fixed annual license fee that varies between EUR 6,000 to EURO 120,000 based on the estimated annual turnover and annual authorisation fee which is set at 16% of the gross gaming revenue.

Another important amendment relates to the introduction of a black list concept where remote gambling operators who performed gambling activities and did not pay the relevant fees due in accordance with the gambling legislation will be listed. Both listing and de-listing conditions will be provided for by the Order of the President of the Gambling Office.

With regard to the technical requirements imposed on remote gambling operators, GEO 92/2014 provides that the informatics central system may be situated in Romania or on the territory of another EU member state or from the EEA Space or the Swiss Confederation. In the latter case the central informatics system needs to be connected to a mirror system conected with the Romanian Gambling Office by way of a terminal made available for free by the gambling operators to the Gambling Office. 

When applying for a gambling license, remote operators need to make prof that they hold a bank account for depositing players funds opened with a bank licensed to operate in Romania or at a bank authorised in another EU member state or from the EEA Space or the Swiss Confederation, which operates however on the Romanian territory.

The amendments seek to address the concerns expressed by the European Commission in relation to both land-based and online gambling. The National Gambling Office represented that the amendments have been discussed in advance with the industry representatives. GEO 92/2014 has also been notified to the European Commission.  

GEO 92/2014 will enter into force within 45 days as of today, respectively 13 February 2014.  Based on its provisions the Government should issue implementation norms within 30 days following its entry into force (i.e mid – March 2015).

We will keep you updated as to any further developments.