Romanian Gambling Industry Braced For Another 'Tough' Year

February 7, 2024
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Romania’s gambling market is braced for more difficulties this year despite 2023 being the “toughest year for the industry”, according to the vice president of trade group Rombet, Dan Iliovici.
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Romania’s gambling market is braced for more difficulties this year despite 2023 being the “toughest year for the industry”, according to the vice president of trade group Rombet, Dan Iliovici.

Iliovici’s warning was made during a roundtable discussion on Central and Eastern Europe at the World Regulatory Briefing on February 6, part of the ICE gambling conference.

“It was a competition with political parties last year. Each party is bidding for more restrictions, especially focused on land-based. I don't know the reason in their mind, [as] these restrictions can be easily circumvented by people going online,” Iliovici said.

Romania has elections set to take place before the end of the year, which could spell further bad news for the gambling industry, following a host of fee increases and other restrictions approved in October 2023. 

However, it is worth noting that the online gambling revenue tax decreased from 23 percent to 21 percent last year.

Romanian authorities are also not involving the gambling industry in conversations regarding possible new restrictions and the measures they take are “based only on their wish to get as many votes as possible”, according to Iliovici.

One area that lawmakers are currently discussing is a possible ban on slot machines in towns with fewer than 15,000 residents.

Ana-Maria Baciu, the managing partner of Simion & Baciu, explained that the government-backed changes to the gambling industry are being made partly because officials want “corporate tax paid in Romania, they need the money”.

A major change introduced in October requires online licensees to have their fiscal headquarters or a permanent establishment in Romania and to pay taxes in the country.

Baciu said the October changes were a “success for the government”, as they achieved their aim of increasing fees, but warned that when similar changes were introduced in 2022 “no one withdrew from the market, but now it is looking a bit different. I have no idea who will stay in the market.” 

Speaking on the sidelines after the talk, one Romanian industry stakeholder suggested the changes in the country have been far more beneficial for larger operators that can pay the increased fees, but tougher on smaller operators with fewer funds.

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