Romania nears opening of iGaming market as EC standstill ends

The Romanian government has moved closer to opening the country's online gaming market to private operators following the expiration of the European Commission's standstill period yesterday.The new regulations, which were notified to the European Commission in November, were approved by the Romanian government on December 29th and amend Government Emergency Ordinance No 77/2009 regarding the organisation and operation of games of chance.

The standstill period required by the European Commission expired yesterday, giving the Romanian government another thirty days to formulate and adopt the implementing rules, referred to as 'norms'.

The framework will include technical specifications for licensees, and is expected to be finalised by March 1st. These rules, which will include, inter alia, licensing and technical conditions, are expected to be adopted no later than March 12th.

Romania's gambling regulator, the National Office for Gambling (ONJN), is currently collaborating with a number of different parties, including the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and local operator associations such as ROMBET, as it looks to formulate the implementing rules (Norms) of the recently adopted act.

While there is no data available on Romania's iGaming sector, around €750m is wagered through land-based gaming machines and sports betting, according to ROMBET.

The association claims that the government has projected revenue of up to €100m from a properly regulated online gambling market.

Online operators will be taxed at a rate of 16 per cent of gross gaming revenue (GGR), with players to be taxed at a rate of 1 per cent on winnings under €15,000; 16 per cent on winnings over €15,000; and 25 per cent on sums above €100,000. Players will be required to declare their winnings on an annual basis.

The ordinance also removes the need for companies looking to launch online to be an active land-based operator, and eases monitoring conditions for operators. Previously these conditions, enforced by the 2009 Gambling Act, had made it all but impossible for companies to obtain a license to launch online gaming operations.

According to a ROMBET spokesman, operators have suggested they will take around six months to prepare themselves for launching in the licensed Romanian market. The ONJN is also expected to allow operators a year-long grace period to fully comply with all technical and payment processing regulations.

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