On the 13th of February 2015, when the Emergency Government Decree no. 92/2014 on regulating fiscal measures and amending normative acts entered into force, art. 22 of the Emergency Decree no. 77/2009 on organizing and exploiting online games was supplemented with a new paragraph, which regulates the contraventional character and the sanctions applicable to natural persons that participate to on-line games, carried out through unauthorized platforms.
The above mentioned article of law clearly stipulates with regard to participation to unauthorized on-line gambling activities that: “It shall be considered a contravention and it shall be sanctioned with a fine from 5,000 lei to 10,000 lei the participation by natural persons on the territory of Romania to online games, as defined under the provisions of art. 10 paragraph (1) letters h)-n), which are not authorized by O.N.J.N.”
Therefore, this regulation requires all participants involved in online games to verify, before recording on the recording account of the gambling platform, the lawfulness of all operations which they are to agree with, namely the obligation to verify the valid existence of the authorization issued by the National Office for Gambling Activities (Romanian abbreviation: ONJC) for the platform through which the company is to be carried out.
With a view to offering participants the means to identify the authorized platforms, the law obliges organizers to publish the license issued by the competent authority, according to the Romanian legislation in force, on the website through which the activity is carried out; for the activities that have provisionally obtained the right to exploit such activity, according to the provisions of art. II paragraph 7 of Law no. 124/2015, such obligation refers to displaying the decision of the Supervisory Board based on which such right was obtained.
Additionally, the law provides that it is a prerogative of the Supervisory Board of O.N.J.N. to include operators without a valid license on a black list of operators that carried out or still carry out such activities without a valid organization license and without an exploitation authorization as well as to limit, as a consequence, the public’s access to any of these platforms.
From the participants’ perspective, the assumption of lawfulness regarding the activity carried out through platforms containing information about the organization license held or those regarding the provisional right on activity exploitation according to the Romanian law cannot be eliminated by merely including the website on the black list (which is not public, according to the legislation in force), such restriction of the public’s access to the gambling platform being mandatory.
Any measure regarding annulment, revocation or suspension of the right to exploit the activity, which is granted under the Romanian law, will be binding to participants only since its communication by the organizer or by limiting access to the gambling platform, according to the decision of the Supervisory Board.
The situation analyzed shall not apply in case of participating to gambling activities carried out through websites that do not contain any information whatsoever regarding the holding by the organizer of the right to exploit the activity (do not contain the license or the decision to grant the provisional right to exploit the activity) taking into account the fact that, in the absence of any such specifications, the participant is granted the necessary means to determine ab initio the illicit character of the activities carried out through the platform accessed, as long as this is allowed only to licensed organizers.
Failure by the authority to fulfill the previous formalities in order to limit the public’s access to unauthorized platforms is therefore not destined to remove the contraventional character of the deed committed by natural persons, unless in case the right of exploitation granted according to the Romanian legislation was annulled, revoked or suspended by means of decision of the Supervisory Board of ONJN.
The contravention is established by the control bodies of ONJN that are allowed to dispose enforceability of the sanction within 6 months as for ascertaining the deed, taking into account the continuous character thereof.
Although it is not provided by the special law, by virtue of art. 7 in the Government Decree no. 2/2001 on the legal regime of contraventions, according to the exact circumstances in which the deed was committed, the control bodies can enforce the measure of warning.
One can file a contraventional complaint against the minutes for ascertaining and sanctioning the contraventions, complaint which shall be sent to the law court where the deed was committed within 15 days as from communication thereof. Contraventional complaint suspends execution of the sanctions applied.