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Romanian Gambling Law Update

The whole gaming and gambling industry is in a dynamic changing phase. This is not only the games themselves but also how Governments view the industry, how it is controlled, how it is policed and how it can be made to benefit society.

The European Union has decided not to legislate for the whole Union but has decided to leave it up to individual countries to define their own laws and policies. This means that countries may and will decide to alter their legislation in relation to gaming and gambling in their own jurisdictions.

In the next period there will be changes in the Romanian gaming environment and this will result in alterations to the way the Romanian authorities treat the industry. The most likely area of change will be in the area of responsible gaming and gambling addiction.

Governments are all focusing on this aspect and this has been reflected in the large fines that have levied in the United Kingdom where there has been breaches of advertising rules in relation to gaming.

The Romanian Government is focusing on the problems of gambling addiction and responsible gaming as well as the protection of vulnerable persons in relation to gambling. Although there is the annual levy paid by companies licensed in Romania in respect of this, these funds have not been used for the purpose for which they are intended. There will be a greater emphasis this year in Romania on this area of the business. Governments throughout Europe are beginning to realise that there are major issues regarding minors who become involved in gambling and that these issues need to be faced.

The Romanian Government is beginning to focus more on responsible gaming and gambling and has produced a draft Code of “Ethics of Responsible Communication in the field of Gambling” which was published by the National Gambling Office in February of this year. The intention of the draft code is to create responsible commercial communications in the field of Gambling. It is based on the necessity to protect minors and other vulnerable people from being exposed to messages relating to the promotion of gambling. The Code does not aim to restrict advertising but to ensure that it is done in a responsible way.

The draft Code incorporates the recommendations of the European Commission of 14th July 2014 and the European Norm of 11th November 2016 regarding publicity and advertising. The Code also incorporates by reference the Code of Practise adopted by the Romanian Advertising Council on 28th August 2016.

The draft Code has adopted a wide definition of communication and it is intended to cover all means of communication to the public of the existence of gambling or games of chance available on the Romanian market. It is intended to cover any company registered in Romania or authorised to carry on business in Romania in the field of gaming and gambling. The Code requires that adverts be
• Legal decent honest and truthful,
• Ensure protection of minors and vulnerable people,
• Address the public in a responsible and proper manner, and
• Comply with the principles of proper competition,

They wish to ensure that the advertisements are addressed to persons over the age of 18 years. The adverts should be placed in a proper way, and if placed in the digital media then there must be method to verify the age of the person receiving the advertisement. If the advertising is through a medium not owned by the gaming company then that medium should be one where at least 90% of the recipients are over the age of 18 years. If the advertisement is in a written format care must be taken to ensure that the advertisement is not specifically aimed at young people.

The code of conduct sets out rules as to the content of the advertisement and should not include puffing or extravagant messages. The content of the advertisement should not for example seek to show gambling as a sign of maturity. The use of a symbol of a gambling organiser which is part the brand identity should not be shown on clothing, toys or playing equipment.

The Code also requires warning messages to be included in the advertising material. The section dealing with this is quite extensive and covers the exclusion of the idea that gambling can solve your money problems, or that by gambling you will get rich quickly. The advert should warn the player that gambling is a game and not a job and is part time only and is supposed to be fun. It should not show gambling as an alternative way to earn ones living. The advert should not diminish or play down the element of luck in a gambling activity. In addition, sexual attraction should not be linked to gambling.

As this is a code, it does not specify punishment or fines for anyone who breaches the rules but it will be linked to the Code of Regulation of the Audio-Visual Council. Further discussion will lead to alterations in the Code but those involved in the gambling and gaming industry need to be aware of what is happening.