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Romania's Upcoming Gambling Reform: Less Taxes, More Operators

With an ordinance approved right before the end of 2014, Romania planned what looks like a real revolution for the gambling industry, as the country gets ready to lower its gambling taxes while issuing time-limited licenses and opening to foreign operators.

Four years after the latest gambling reform entered into force, the Romanian Government has decided to meet some of the requests that came both from the operators and the European Commission, and reconsider the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 (GEO 77/2009), the norm that regulated live and online gambling games in the country.

According to the ordinance GEO 92/2014 that was published in Romania’s Official Gazette on Dec. 30, the government is now ready to archive some of the most restrictive measures applied to the gambling industry and focus on a reform that may increase the State’s tax revenue and help Romania’s tourism industry to grow at the same time.

Among the most remarkable changes included in the ordinance is a new taxation on gambling that will replace the universal 25 percent tax applied on winnings today.

Once the Government issues the necessary norms to establish the system described in the ordinance, the country will adopt a new system based on three different tiers with a 1 percent tax applied to all players who put together revenues between €133 and €15,000, a 16 percent tax on revenues between €15,000 and €100,000, and a 25 percent tax on revenues over €100,000.

Also, the dispositions included in the text allow EU legal entities to obtain a license to offer gambling services to Romania's players.

By opening the national market to companies based in the European Union, the government hopes to earn some precious extra tax revenues, and at the same time get a better control over the industry to limit issues as compulsive gaming and underage gambling.

The GEO 92/2014 also tries to find a way to help Romania’s tourism industry to grow with the creation of some new temporary licenses that would allow operators to offer gambling games in touristic areas for a period of three to six months.

As Cosmina Simion, a Bucharest-based Associate of the global law firm DLA Piper explains in a post published on the company's corporate blog, "most of the new amendments brought by GEO 92/2014 will enter into force within 45 days as of Dec. 30. The Government will issue implementation norms within 30 days following the expiry of the initial 45 days."

As explained here on PokerNews back in November 2014, the decision to reform the current gambling regulation is partially due to the pressure that the Government in Bucarest received from the European institutions.

In the recent past, the European Commission has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about Romania's gambling regulation as it considered it to be in conflict with the European treaties on free trade.

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