Taking into account the recent legislative changes in the field of gambling, as well as the public discussions about the future changes, in this article we try to discuss the provisions that directly influence the activity of CABs and the problems that have existed for some time in this niche area.
We start from the fact that the amendment by the provisions of GEO 82/2023 for the amendment and completion of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of games of chance, as well as for the amendment of Government Emergency Ordinance No. 20/2013 on the establishment, organization and operation of the National Gambling Agency, and for the amendment and completion of Government Emergency Ordinance No. 77/2009, published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, No905 of October 6, 2023, has not been notified to the European Commission in accordance with the provisions of the (EU) Directive 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council of September 9, 2015, laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical regulations and of rules on information society services (transposed into national law by GD No 1. 016 of 25 June 2004 on measures for the organization and implementation of the exchange of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on information society services between Romania and the Member States of the European Union and the European Commission, as subsequently amended and supplemented). This issue was the subject of a negative opinion of the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism (according to address no. 122.016/04.10.2023 (which we present from public sources), which underlines the obligation to notify already at the draft stage of the legal regulation.
We remind that the RMC, together with other CABs, has signaled the tendency of the NGO to issue technical regulations without notifying the EC, and the national courts have not even taken into account the replies received from the EC (a document we present publicly for the first time), which has already amended the famous Order No. 404 of the President of the NGO by Order No. 86/17.06.2021 of the President of the National Gaming Office on the amendment and supplementation of the Annex to Order of the President of the National Gaming Office No. 404/2020 on the approval of the minimum technical conditions for the verification of gaming equipment, which has become a practice in this non-harmonized area of gambling.
With regard to the last change in the legislation, we would like to point out that CABs do not belong to the category of “licensed gaming operators” or “legal entities directly involved in the field of licensed traditional and remote games of chance in Class II“, even if CABs hold a Class II license, and as such do not have to pay the annual contributions provided for in Article 10(4). We would like to point out that the CABs only carry out technical control activities on gaming equipment in the four established ways, which consist of: type approvals, initial technical checks, periodic technical checks and technical checks after repairs, which certifies the absence of direct involvement in the field of traditional gambling and, implicitly, the absence of the obligation to pay the amounts related to the activity financed entirely by the ONJN’s own revenues.
Another aspect that should be mentioned is the deadlock that the ONJN is in at the moment, since the aforementioned amendments oblige the Supervisory Committee to hold meetings in the presence of at least 9 members (out of 11), and in October of this year they could not hold the meeting because only 8 members of the Supervisory Committee were appointed. This has a negative impact on the conduct of specific activity for both gambling operators and other licensees. We hope that the political factor will realize that these artificially created barriers will reduce the revenues to the state budget and the activity of licensed operators, and that this situation can cause disruptions in the activities of the gambling industry (for example, there are companies that need to obtain a license, to extend the operating permits, or operators that may fall below the minimum number of gaming resources – which by law implies the cancellation of the license, etc.).
A final aspect that we would like to point out is the newly introduced obligation for Class I licensed operators to obtain authorization from the ONJN (it is not yet known whether it must be obtained from the DGAJN or the Supervisory Committee) for the relocation of slot machines. Obtaining such an opinion proves once again that the regulation is technical in nature and should have been notified to the EC, and at the same time makes it more difficult for Class I licensees (a bureaucratic provision – adding yet another piece of paper to the pile of daily, monthly, quarterly and annual paperwork), and also affects the work of CABs, who will have to move their technical teams around the country to perform metrological technical checks (which generates additional costs for CABs – travel, per diem, fuel costs, accommodation, meals for employees, etc.).
We await with great interest the implementing rules for the recent legislative changes and hope that in the meantime the ONJN will resolve the problem of the application of Decree 86/2021, which has been postponed until December 31, 2023.