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 legislation targets the amendments of the conditions that must be fulfilled by EU legal entities in order to become a licensed gambling organizer in Romania as well as the possibility that a gambling organizer, other than the National Lottery, be licensed and exploit mutual betting in the traditional system as well as in the online environment. The new rules provide for better protection for minors and addicted persons, as well as for a significant increase of the incomes to the state budget by the introduction of new taxation rules. 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.

One of the most important amendments relate to online gambling which will enable both operators and players to legalize their activities on this market. Another novelty is represented by the introduction of licenses for temporary games to be performed in touristic areas for a period between 3 and 6 months, which is hoped to stimulate the development of tourism in parallel to the increase the revenues to the state budget.

The amendments also aim to reduce the fiscal fraud by introducing the obligation to connect the machines to servers controlled by the National Office for Gambling as well as by introducing game machines with participation fees and limited earnings, which will replace the traditional slot-machine devices from bars and coffee shops. The scope is to reduce the negative social impact of gambling in the society.

Last but not least, the amendments seek to address the concerns expressed by the European Commission in relation to both land-based and online gambling. According to a press release issued by the National Gambling Office, it seems that the amendments have been discussed with the industry representatives and have been notified to the European Commission. The amendments seek to limit the negative social impact of gambling activities, though a more detailed regulation and a more strict surveillance of the National Gambling Office over the market. 

Most of the new amendments brought by GEO 92/2014 will enter into force within 45 days as of today. The Government will issue implementation norms within 30 days following the expiry of the initial 45 days.