by Av. prof. Dr. Marius PANTEA
We are trying to take a retrospective look at this year and remember the events that have marked the national gambling industry.
The year started with “the already famous Ordinance 114“, which the current government is trying to remove from the Romanian legislative landscape. This ordinance is responsible for the increased gambling fee (for slot machine games), and it has clarified what will happen with the amount of money that gambling organizers must use to prevent and combat gambling addiction. We must emphasize here that we are pioneers in this field, our country being one of the few states that have created a fund and a structure to deal with this thorny problem.
In the middle of the year, at the Consultative Council around the ONJN, a draft Order was issued to regulate the minimum technical conditions for checking the means of play, and after discussions during several rounds (during 3-4 months), a draft was notified to the European Commission, which at this time must respond to two opinions made by Austria and Spain. The deadline was set for January 23, 2020.
The emergence of a new regulation on money laundering in the middle of the year has also sparked the gambling operators’ interest. The delayed implementation of the AML 4 Directive, made possible the emergence of Law 129/2019, a normative act that establishes new obligations for both ONJN and for the license holders. We briefly mention the obligation of knowing the client for amounts greater than 2,000 euros, reporting for amounts exceeding 10,000 euros, the obligation to identify the real beneficiaries, etc.
In order to comply with the new legal provisions, ONJN must issue specific instructions, which are currently in planning stage and, following the discussions in the Advisory Council, they will take into account the reality of the national gambling market.
The draft Order that considers the betting terminals (whether we speak of an autonomous or independent terminal) is a final regulatory activity with an impact in the gambling industry, for which has been requested a proposal from the profile industry and that will be discussed in the ONJN Advisory Council.
Last but not least, we should mention the ONJN transition from the General Secretariat of the Government to the Ministry of Public Finance, which we believe is a bit rushed. The best solution was to pass the ONJN under parliamentary control, and turn it into a autonomous body, such as the Competition Council, for example.
In order to live in a normal world, we consider that those who have taken over the government must discern about the things that need to be changed, but especially to keep the things that have proved to be functional, useful and in line with our European country status. “Normal Romania” does not refer to just an apparent change. We hope that the changes of people in the management of the institutions will bring real “value”, not just people who respond to orders. Beyond all, we hope that the election of those people will be based on competence, not obedience and the change will be made only if it is required.
We consider it absolutely necessary to keep ONJN as an authority that will continue to function as the only body of the Romanian state that authorizes, monitors and controls this niche field, and the specialization that the employees of the Office have acquired to be used in order to keep the national games industry under strict and professional control.
This fascinating world of gambling, must find its place in the national economic landscape, it must be understood that it is part of the entertainment industry, which, in the civilized world, is respected for its contribution to the economic development of the state and for social benefits.
For the fact that the regulation of the field in our country has succeeded in setting an example, the taxation and the technical, social and economic aspects have been designed to allow a steady development that will benefit the three parties involved, the state, the player and the operator.
That said, let me congratulate all the players involved in this real industry, from the ONJN employee, to the simple cashier of a gaming operator, to the teams of managers, advisors and all those actively involved and, of course, the Casino Inside team, for the efforts and achievements of this year! We wish you a new year that will bring you health and great achievements.
Sincerely, Marius Pantea