Gambling is legal in Romania and it is permitted only if the required licenses and authorizations are obtained. For the entire course of business, the gambling activity will be carefully observed by the authorities in order for the legal provisions to be respected.
The competent public authority to observe and control the Romanian gambling market and to grant licenses and authorizations to the gambling operators is the National Gambling Office (NGO).
According to the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organisation and operation of games of chance (GEO 77/2009), the land-based slot machines gaming are defined by reference to one of the following three categories:
- slot machines games with unlimited stakes and winnings played via specific machines or equipment with the players being physically present, operated in specialised premises where gambling takes place;
- games played via electronic devices that offer limited risk winnings (known in the industry as ”amusement with price” – AWP slot machines), with the players being physically present, but cannot be placed in specialised gambling premises;
- video lottery games, where the players are physically present for which the gaming equipment must be connected to central server running the gaming program and that validates the win.
The slot machine gambling activity may only be operated in specialized locations or spaces organized separately within the premises where economic activities are carried out, other than those regulated by GEO 77/2009, in the presence of the players.
- Can a foreign company apply for land-based license for slot machines?
In accordance with the legislation in force, only operators based in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss Confederation may apply for and obtain the necessary license and authorization in order to provide gambling services in Romania.
The quality of a gambling operator in Romania can be obtained either by a Romanian legal entity or a legal entity fully incorporated in a member state of the EU, EEA or Swiss Confederation.
A situation in which a foreign operator provides gambling services in Romania without holding the relevant license and authorization issued by the Romanian regulator consists of a criminal offence.
- If the Romanian limited company is necessary to set up, may it be represented by foreign administrator?
The Romanian legislation allows any citizen (member of EU, EEA, Swiss Confederation or foreign citizen), to obtain the quality as administrator in a Romanian company as long as they fulfill the legal conditions:
- To have full legal capacity (the ability to acquire and exercise rights, as well as to assume and exercise obligations by concluding legal acts),
- To be honourable, meaning that they cannot have the quality of an administrator if they have been forbidden the right to exercise this quality by a definitive court decision as a conviction for crimes against property, corruption crimes, embezzlement, forgery of documents, tax evasion, crimes of money laundering or terrorist financing or for the crimes provided by Law no. 31/1990 regarding trading companies.
So, the answer to your question is yes, a foreign citizen can be appointed as an administrator in a Romanian company.
- Is a secure fund required to set up? If yes, what is the amount?
For every gambling activity, GEO 77/2009 provides a minimum amount for the social capital which every operator needs to subscribe in order to perform and develop the business. If the gambling operator wants to perform land-based slot machines gaming activities he needs to subscribe for the social capital a minimum amount of 30.000 lei.
- Requirements for land-based license
In order to perform land-based gambling activities, a gambling operator must obtain:
- a Class I license – license granted to the gambling operator so that he can legally organize games of chance in Romania and
- one or several authorizations for the operation of the games of chance.
While the licensing procedure is not product- specific, the authorization must be obtained for each type of gambling activity intended to perform.
To obtain the Class I license the operator must submit an application request along with several corporate and operational documents related to the legal entity itself and its shareholders and administrators.
The gambling operator needs to prove that:
- it’s primary object of activity is gambling;
- the legal representatives and the shareholders have obtained the police approval for organizing this type of activity;
- the required social capital has been subscribed in the amount provided by the GEO 77/2009.
To the file, there must also be submitted the declaration of the legal representatives of the gambling operator, declaration taken on their own responsibility which states that:
- the company hasn’t been convicted by a final Court decision,
- they are not in an incompatibility situation, according to the Romanian legislation,
- the identity of the real beneficiaries / owners, as they are defined by Law 129/2019 on the prevention and combating of money laundering and financing of terrorism and that they have not been convicted by a final Court decision for a crime regarding the gambling activities,
- no administrative measures were taken against the legal entity such as the cancellation, revocation or suspension of the license or the entire activity performed by the gambling operator, for a period of one year before the date of submission of the license application;
- that in the last 3 years they did not hold the quality of shareholder and / or administrator in companies that have been declared bankrupt.
The legal representatives of the gambling operator have to submit their criminal records certificates or other documents issued by the competent authorities whose area of competence is in their last known residence / registered office, stating that against any of the legal representatives there was not pronounced a final Court decision of conviction for crimes provided for by GEO 77/2009.
For developing land-based slot machine gaming activities, the operator must obtain an authorization to operate for each slot – machine.
In order to obtain the authorization for the land-based slot machines, the gambling operator must prove to the NGO that:
- the existence of a valid Class I license or the proof that the gambling operator has applied for one;
- the location where the activity will be performed is registered at the Trade Register;
- the location where the activity will be performed is not situated within an educational establishment (including its campuses), cultural, art, health, social related, religious cults or any other similar establishments or within the delimited perimeter bounded for them;
- the slot machines and the specialized locations fulfill the legal conditions;
- the slot machines are connected through independent computer programs;
- the operator has all the technical equipment which supports the gambling activity;
- any other legal conditions.
- Terms and conditions of the license
The Class I license is valid for 10 years and may be renewed for identical periods of time, while the authorization is generally granted for 1 year and must be renewed / prolonged on an annual basis.
The licenses and authorizations may be prolonged upon request for identical validity periods in the case that, at least 30 days in advance of the expiration date, the license holder proves that the conditions taken into consideration at the moment of the initial license / authorization continue to be observed.
From a procedural perspective, the complete documentation must be submitted to the NGO’s registry at least 9 working days prior of the Supervisory Committee’s meeting. Pursuant to GEO 77/2009, request to be granted with a license to organize or authorizations to operate shall be resolved within a time frame of 30 days from the date of submission of the complete documentation.
According to GEO 77/2009 the license and authorization enter into force on the first day of the month following the one during which the license / authorization application was approved by the regulator and the taxes owed by the operator were paid in advance.
- How many slot machines may be used in one place?
In accordance with GEO 77/2009, the minimum number of slot machines that can be operated by the same gambling operator is 75 slot machines, which can be operated within the same locations or in different locations.
The number of slot machines a gambling operator can place on a location also differ depending on the location, respectively if the location is a gaming room, a betting agency, locations for the jack-pot game system etc.
The legislation permits a gambling operator to place in the same location 2 or more categories of slot machines only if the space related to the operation of each activity is delimited separately within the location.
- Any contraindications to a place environment (school, church etc)
As mentioned above, land- based gambling activities may be only operated in specialized locations and these locations cannot be situated within an educational establishment (including its campuses), cultural, art, health, social related, religious cults or any other similar establishments or within the delimited perimeter bounded for them.
Also, the location cannot be situated in a manner that could obstruct the traffic or it would limit the access to other places of interest (such as: entrance of a building, pedestrian passages or public transport stations).
Under exceptional circumstances activities like gambling are allowed in cinemas, entertainment halls, gyms. These come with a series of rules and restrictions: separate entrances for people who gamble, the other activities should not be disturbed and no minors allowed.
- Costs of the land-based license, expected time for approval
Although the license has a validity for 10 years, fees are owed annually in order to maintain this license. GEO 77/2009 provides the value of the license and authorization fees, values that differ according to each type of game of chance.
The Class I license fee is paid as follows:
- for the first year, until the 25th of the month following the month in which the documentation was approved;
- for the subsequent years, in 10 days before the expiration of the previous year.
Also, the authorization to operate the slot machines gaming activities are paid annually for each slot machine or AWP slot machine.
In addition to the above mentioned fees and taxes, land-based gambling operators are also required to pay an annual contribution to the public fund for preventing gambling addiction. Such annual contribution amounts to 1000 Eur and must be paid until 15 December of each year.
For further information or for establishing a meeting with one of our specialized lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us !
Ruxandra Simionescu – Attorney at Law | Senior Partner @ BRANCOV SIMIONESCU TODOR S.C.A.