by Av. Prof. Dr. Marius PANTEA
The legislative amendments of 2015 broke through the monopoly held, until then, by the Romanian Office for Legal Metrology (BRML), which, between 2000 – 2015, was the sole authority that performed the technical control of the gaming means which were exploited on the national territory.
This amendment was imposed by the fact that, once with the licensing and authorization of remote gambling, the BRML personnel had to be able to perform verification and audit activities specific to this field. As a result of discussions held with the legal metrology representatives in our country, a conclusion was reached according to which, from a technical point of view and from the perspective of the BRML personnel’s training, these activities cannot be performed by this authority, which determined the then leadership of the ONJN to identify a solution that would allow the urgent licensing and authorization of online gambling, as to avoid enormous budgetary losses generated by the situation at hand, at that time.
As such, it was decided to allow certain private, specialized operators to perform this type of service, especially considering that until 2009, this activity was carried out – successfully, in our opinion – by private national companies. In order to ensure there were no appeals from the market, the Commission and moreover, to ensure that they could not be accused of violating the provision under the competition regime, it was allowed, as in the case of the traditional games market, that other private entities exist to offer services for the technical verification of gaming means.
The described situation took actual form by means of certain provisions being introduced under GEO 77/2009 [art. 19, para. (1)] which instituted the appearance of certain companies specialized in the field, called “conformity assessment bodies” and which, together with BRML, had to be capable of carrying out the technical control of all machines, installations, devices, gambling tables and all other gaming means.
Given the fact that BRML was under the control of the Ministry of Economy – as is the case today – and the activity of assessing certain situations regarding the gaming means could not be under the authority of the ONJN, it was decided, through Order of the President of the ONJN – which aimed at rendering all procedures used for the approval of initial technical assessments, periodical or after repair assessments – that the “minimal technical assessment conditions used by the Romanian Office for Legal Metrology and the conformity assessment bodies be established”, that is, after they would have priorly obtained a class II license from the Office. This legislative amendment was also based on the fact that the BRLM, at that time, used “technical assessment norms” from the year 2000, which were no longer pertinent. For example, the slot machine type gaming means were called “electronic machines that offer winnings” in those documents – denomination given in the year 1999, no difference being made between a slot machine game and the video-lottery games, fact which almost resulted in an infringement situation (let us remember the European Commission’s “Letter of notice of default – Violation no. 2013/4216”) and other such situations.
Therefore, a transition period of one year was established, a time frame within which the existing technical norms for the technical control of machines, installations, devices, gambling tables and other gaming means and the fees imposed by the Romanian Office for Legal Metrology were to be used, following that after this period of time, new regulations compliant with the current situation of the Romania’s gambling market were to be created.
And this year, half-way through February, a Draft Order of the President of the ONJN came to be, entitled “Draft technical assessment norm for slot machine type gaming means – Constructive and operational requirements”, and the “Minimal technical assessment conditions of gaming means, constructive and operational requirements” after that.
The issuance of this Order was necessary and long awaited on the national gambling market, given the fact that the practices used by the conformity assessment bodies, licensed class II by the ONJN, were not unitary, that there were situations in which gaming means that had the type approval and initial technical assessment issued by a Body, with the request made toward the BRML or another body, were not accepted for periodical assessments or after repairs assessments, the assessment techniques differed from one company to the next, the assessment procedures were not unitary and so on.
We appreciate the consultation rounds organized by the ONJN leadership within the Advisory Council with guests from the conformity assessment bodies licensed in Romania and we hope that the result of these debates will be included within the final Draft Order which shall have to be notified to the European Commission, in accordance with provisions under Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and the Council from June 22nd, 1998, for the establishment of a procedure for information provision in the field of technical standards and regulations, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities L 204 from July 21st, 1998, amended through Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and the Council from July 20th, 1998, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities L217 from August 5th, 1998, as well as Regulation (EU) no. 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and the Council from October 25th, 2012 regarding European standardization, for the amendment of Directives 89/686/EEC and 93/15/EEC of the Council and Directives 94/9/EC, 94/25/EC, 95/16/EC, 97/23/EC, 98/34/EC, 2004/22/EC, 2007/23/EC, 2009/23/EC and 2009/105/EC of the European Parliament and the Council and for the repeal of Decision 87/95/EEC of the Council and Decision no. 1673/2006/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities series L no. 316 from November 14th, 2012.
A first novelty is represented by the requirement that the technical assessment norms used by the BRML and the conformity assessment bodies is that they must contain the verification of the rights of use upon the computer programs used, with the distinct emphasis of the performed assessment and its results in the documents issued by BRML or the conformity assessment bodies. This aspect has become mandatory for gambling operators within the authorization procedure for the gaming means they intend to exploit. Before, this issue, which aimed at observing the intellectual property rights, was “resolved” through a sworn statement made by the representative of the operator who requested a type approval and an initial assessment.
-to be continued-