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Future Gambling legislation – Romania and the EU

The European Union is currently reviewing the position of the current Gambling legislation in the Union. Having issued a “Green Paper” in 2012 this is still currently being discussed by the various interested bodies both at a national and local level.

Currently there is no unified legislation in the European Union and consequently there is fragmented legislation in Romania and throughout the EU. Certain issues relating to gaming are currently covered in EU Regulations and directives and require operators to consider Data Protection requirements; Money laundering; long distance selling and consumer protection amongst others. Part of the discussion in the Green Paper is to bring certain of these elements together in one piece of legislation.

The advent over the last few years of on-line gaming has also highlighted many issues concerning gambling which it was not necessary for operators and Governments to focus on previously. On line gambling is expanding both in terms of supply and demand as well as income and taxation that can be recovered from it.

There has been a rise of both black and grey operations in on-line gambling. By the nature of the product in many cases no one country has control. The problem is accentuated by the location of the servers, the Providers and now the Cloud. These issues have given rise to more of an emphasis on money laundering and fraud. There is the added risk as has been seen in many countries of the integrity of various live sports being compromised. Match fixing whilst always a problem in the past will become more of a problem as the internet expands. One to one games will allow more possibilities for money laundering.

The EU is looking to try and increase co-operation between Governments and operators to protect minors, consumers and vulnerable adults because of this. There are already in place several programs instituted at a local level which will protect these groups of persons but unscrupulous operators are always there to take advantage. Many operators operate as required by local law, and by their own registration requirements, safeguards particularly with regard to minors as well as counselling for players and their families where it is considered that there is a problem with gambling.

It is accepted that countries cannot legislate individually and a common and unified approach is needed. This has it’s own problems and issues. There is not a unified approach by EU countries towards taxation of games of chance. Some countries wish to keep a state monopoly and others want a more open environment. To effectively cover this an agreed EU wide policy will have to be implemented. As many Governments receive considerable amounts of money by way of licensing and taxation they will be reluctant to give this up, and a common approach will be necessary. This will cause pain to some countries.

Game designers and equipment manufacturers will find new markets opening where machines and programs will have to be designed in such a way that they will enable the authorities to monitors the games as they are played in real time. This will enable the authorities to calculate the tax payable at the same time ensuring players are fairly treated in respect of the odds that they are being offered and the payments being made to them. This is an opportunity which even now in certain areas is possible but I am also aware of countries where whilst the operators are ready to assist in this, Governments are unwilling or unable to make the investment in infrastructure and equipment to take advantage of this opportunity and calculation and collection of taxation. In some cases, they prefer to have more employees in Government to recover the taxation rather than an efficient low cost method of collection. These issues must be worked through both at a local and international level.

Therefore, for operators in the field of gaming they need to consider now the requirements and questions set out in the Green Paper and work with their National Governments to ensure that the industry continues to thrive and prosper. Whatever the conclusions it is clear that the EU will either legislate or force National Governments to take a more proactive approach.