Odeta Nistor, President of the National Gambling Office

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Speeding up towards online gambling
Romania, among the European countries with the best legal regulations in the online gambling
An exclusive interview for Casino Life & Business Magazine on the new Romanian gambling legislation with Mrs. Odeta Nestor, President of the National Gambling Office

The recent legislation in the gambling sector, ratified as a matter of urgency at last year-end, has been stirring controversies
To extinguish the above and build a transparent climate in this sector, we asked Mrs. Odeta Nistor, President of the National Gambling Office, more questions on the newly passed legislation

Here are the questions that were the topic of our discussions:

1. How different is the legislation regulated by the Emergency Ordinance 92/2014 on
29 December 2014 compared to the similar European legislation?

2. What are the expectations of the ONJN regarding the openness in the online gambling sector?

3. What do you think the changes in the slots area and the operators of the gaming rooms will be?

4. What about the live casinos?

5. How will the live poker be impacted?

6. What about the sports betting branch?

7. How much do you believe the contribution to the state budget will increase with?

Read below the answers to these questions:

In my position as the President of the National Gambling Office (ONJN), I can proudly report that Romania is now among the European countries with the best legal regulations in the online gambling sector.
Upon considering the need to realign the land-based gambling, as well as the dynamics of the online gambling development (mainly of a technical nature), the Romanian Government approved the G.E.O. no. 92/2014 to regulate certain fiscal-budgetary measures and amend certain normative acts, published in the Official Gazette Part I, no. 957/2014.

One of the relevant measures of this recent normative act regards the online gambling, which will allow an easier access of both the operators and the players on this market.

Prior to the ratification of the G.E.O. 92/2014, the condition on the gambling market had justified the need for amendments to improve, in order to better respond to the economic and social realities and the specificity of the extremely active line of business.
These amendments will thus regulate the gambling taxation in more categories, as well as of the other service suppliers herein involved (software suppliers, auditors), change the requirements regarding the licensing of the economic operators that will carry out the monitoring and reporting of the online gambling, introduce new gambling categories (online betting exchange, poker festivals, temporary gambling) and, more importantly, the 25% taxing withholding on the players’ earnings is eliminated, while having new types of taxing, depending on the specific nature of each game.

As for the online games, an extremely important measure for the organizers to take is also the change in taxing the activity-derived earnings, in the sense that this taxing will take place progressively, depending on the gross gambling profits, called gross gambling revenue (GGR), which is the total amount minus the earnings due to the players.

GGR is the true measurement unit of the economic value in gambling and it is an indicator that determines how much the gross profit of a gaming organizer is, prior to taxing, the payment of the salaries or other expenses, and it is totally different from what a company ‚profit’ means.

We have benefitted from more opportunities to study and learn about good and bad, about right and wrong from the best, namely the European states with the most advanced legislative systems for the online gambling and also land-based, such as Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Malta, Italy and France.
Their expertise in gambling has helped us build a new and regulated market, matching our particularities, at high standards, which also respond to the necessities and requirements to have a well-organized and monitored such market that will provide the necessary protection for players, including measures of preventing the gambling addiction and still keeping it attractive for investors and for reliable gaming organizers.

In terms of the openness in the online gambling, comparative studies and professional forecasts enable us estimate that the value of the inputs – direct taxes that are about to be collected by the state budget from the organizers that will be licensed during 2015 (mainly for the online sector) – will reach the amount of €10 millions.

Even though we have had so far legal stipulations that were regulating the online gambling , and taking into account the approval and publication in the Official Gazette of the G.E.O. no. 92/2014 – which is the primary legislation – the next step is to draft and adopt secondary norms that will detail the implementation criteria for the legal regulation, we think that the year of 2015 will be transitional to a Romanian gambling market at an European level, modern, efficient, correct and fully regulated. It will also be a year of all and every effort with the purpose of having all the great organizers, more or less visible on this market, become legal entities on the territory of Romania.

Likewise, for the land-based gambling organizers, this year will mean a time when they resettle, regroup and resort themselves. The trustworthy ones, who perceive gambling as a legal, correct and efficient activity, will want to enter into partnerships and fight, along with ONJN, against those who write an equal sign between gambling and a means of becoming rich, via fairly legal or moral methods.
For 2015, morality, respect for the players, towards the law and luck should be the main targets for the reliable organizers. When I am saying ‚respect towards luck’, I mean the compliance with the hazard element that generates the profit, which identifies the winner and represents the core of gambling by definition.

The same targets are totally valid for the online gambling, as stipulated by the current legislation.

As per the statistical data, Romania is in an exponential development stage in terms of using the internet and telephone system, especially the smartphone-type terminals. These technical conditions have also a direct influence on the development of the gambling market, besides the fact that the market is on an ascending trend. The reasons for the above are the negative and strong authority of the economic downturn effects, of the recession times we have been through that generate a lack of interest towards gambling.
During difficult times, people are trying to steer towards various, alternative sources of income. It is then when the delusion of a quick gain brings about significant increase of the gambling market. I will ask for permission to ask the players, mainly the ones favoring the online games, not to abandon themselves to gambling on sites or platforms that are not authorized for the Romanian territory, just to protect themselves.

As we speak, I will have to remind you that there is no license or authorization issued for the online gambling on the territory of Romania. This is regarded as felony and it means a prison sentence between 6 months and 2 years or a huge fine to have a person taking part in non-authorized gambling in our country, organized via internet-type communication systems, landline or mobile telephone or similar ones.
Even though I could find myself repeating what I have just said, I still want to remind you that the main targets of our institution include the implementation of specific measures to prevent the gambling addiction, protection of the minors and of other categories of people, the preservation of the hazard element by playing fair games, within the legal limits.

Similarly, I recommend the players to keep the gambling as a game and not take the risks of playing too much money that would bring about a financial imbalance and generate the premises of true drama in their families.

LĂSAȚI UN MESAJ

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