by Ana-Maria Baciu și Teodora Popescu – NESTOR NESTOR DICULESCU KINGSTON PETERSEN
After an end of the year 2018 that brought concern in the midst of gambling operators that are active or that are prospecting the gaming market in Romania, the year 2019 has begun with an intense wait. At the date of this article, the waiting is over!
The President of the NOG approved the Order for the approval of the manner of calculating the monthly tax provided under art. 53 of GEO no. 114/2018 on the establishment of measures in the field of public investments and fiscal-budgetary measures, for the modification and completion of certain normative acts and for the extension of certain deadlines and for the amendment of annex no. 8 of the Order of the President of the NOG no. 179/2018 on the approval of the monthly statement, as a standard form, for the revenues made by gambling organizers that carry out gambling activities according to art. 10 par. (1) of GEO no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of games of chance, that was published in the Official Gazette on February 15th, 2019 („Order no. 38/2019”).
Now, with a complete legal framework with regard to the obligations to declare and pay that gambling organizers must observe, we can make a summary of the most important changes – current or future – that will keep us all occupied in the following period:
Monthly tax that will be paid by online gambling organizers
Starting with February 25th, 2019, online gambling organizers have the obligation to declare and pay a monthly tax representing 2% calculated from the total participation fees cashed in the previous month.
Order no. 38/2019 came to define the total of participation fees cashed in every month as any transfer from the bank account or similar of the players into their respective game accounts on the gaming platform. In other words, the total participation fees cashed in monthly are understood as representing players’ deposits.
Consequently, Annex 8 to Order no. 179/2018 was amended, among other things, to allow the statement referring to the new 2% tax.
Contribution to the activity attached to the NOG
GEO no. 114/2018 also introduced the regulation of the contributions provided by gambling legislation (namely by art. 10 par. (4) of GEO no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of games of chance) for promoting the observance of the principles and measures regarding socially responsible gambling. Through the new amendments brought by GEO no. 77/2009, the establishment of a Fund for the prevention of gambling addiction was dropped in favor of an activity attached to the NOG, financed entirely from its own revenue.
The value of the contributions to the activity attached to the NOG was not changed – respectively: remote gambling organizers holding a class I license – EUR 5,000 annually, operators holding a class II license – EUR 1,000 annually (the contribution being calculated according to the number of licenses held), class III remote games of chances that are state monopoly – EUR 5,000 annually, licensed land-based gambling organizers – EUR 1,000.
On the basis of the provisions of GEO no. 114/2018, NOG started notifying economic operators that carried out activity during 2015-2018 and that owe the contribution provided by the law for that period.
Against this background, the NOG also came with a set of clarifications, through a notice published on the institution’s website, regarding payment details for the contributions owed and other aspects regarding the instrumentation of the payments corresponding to those contributions. By way of example, it is expressly specified that these contributions will be considered cashed in at the moment they appear in the NOG’s statement of account, for the account opened at ATCPM, Bucharest, and the amounts paid with incorrectly filled payment orders and that were returned to the payer will be considered unpaid.
Legislation on the prevention of money laundering
The draft law on preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing that was to transpose the provisions of Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering or terrorist financing was challenged by a group of MPs at the Constitutional Court (RCC) before it was sent for promulgation to the President of Romania.
RRC admitted the challenge and found that the phrases contained in a series of articles in the draft law, which refer to exemptions for the organizations of citizens belonging to national minorities, are unconstitutional.
As such, at this moment, the draft law is under review in the Senate to be reconciled with the decision of the RCC, and then it will go through the Chamber of Deputies, before it is finally sent for promulgation by the President of Romania.
As a result of this legislative process, it appears that the transposition of European provisions in the field of AML will be delayed.
Advertising in the audio-visual field
There were no major changes in this field. NAC has not yet adopted the amendments to the Audiovisual Code with an impact on the gaming industry.
In addition to all of the above, NOG has begun to communicate to online gambling organizers requests to provide new audit reports.
The beginning of 2019 announces itself to be an interesting one, with legislative and regulatory changes which promise to keep us alert, if not awake, day and night.
Place your bets!