Romania Lawmakers Backtrack On Ad Ban

March 3, 2023
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Romanian lawmakers have scrapped plans for a full advertising ban, instead pushing ahead with a raft of less punitive restrictions.

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Romanian lawmakers have scrapped plans for a full advertising ban, instead pushing ahead with a raft of less punitive restrictions.

Cosmina Simion, the managing partner of SIMION & BACIU law firm in Bucharest, said an “almost completely amended” bill was submitted after lobbying from the gambling industry, football federation and TV stations.

Alina Gorghiu, the National Liberal Party’s (PNL) vice president and president of the Romanian Senate, is credited for the changes, despite her colleague, Adrian-Felician Cozma, being responsible for creating, and still supporting, the proposed ban published in November.

The new proposals have already been passed by the country's Senate with an overwhelming majority, Simion said.

"It is difficult to estimate the timeframe, but taking the high interest the public opinion has taken on the subject we believe this will be relatively swift (similarly to what happened in the Senate). The likelihood of the law to be passed is high," Simion said.

The amendments will now be sent to the Chamber of Deputies for discussion, approval and possible changes, which Dan Iliovici, vice president of trade group ROMBET, conversely suggests “may take months” before being finalised.

“Fortunately, MPs agreed on the arguments that a total ban on advertising would bring more disadvantages than a hypothetical benefit,” Iliovici told VIXIO.

The newly-proposed amendments include banning gambling ads between 6am and 11pm, except during live sports broadcasts, as long as they include the warnings to “Be responsible” and that gambling is illegal for those under 18 years of age.

A gambling watershed has already been imposed for a few years by the National Audio-Visual Council (CNA), meaning it will simply align the law with the CNA rules, Iliovici explained.

Celebrities and public figures will be unable to promote gambling and any form of advertising by operators without a licence will be illegal.

Forms of outdoor advertising for licensed operators are permitted as long as they do not exceed a total surface area of 30 square metres.

However, the draft would prohibit the promotion of prizes in money or material goods through forms of outdoor advertising, such as billboards or advertising structures that are located in public areas, including on various buildings or structures.

The National Office for Games of Chance (ONJN) will be tasked with enforcing the changes.

Despite the new proposal, Cozma repeated his calls to “stop advertising gambling” on social media on March 1, after news of the amendments circulated in local media.

Cozma originally indicated that a ban was needed for numerous reasons, including the World Health Organisation categorising gambling addiction as a very serious mental illness.

“Gambling commercials affect our lives in ways we have no control over. Everywhere you look you see a lot of images that unwittingly grab our attention. Young people are the most at risk and the negative consequences are hard to assess,” Cozma posted on March 1 after news of the new proposal circulated in local media.

Cozma still wants his original proposal to be voted on in the Chamber of Deputies and has also raised questions about how members of his own party have switched from supporting a ban to now only wanting restrictions.

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