Romania and Moldova considering online gambling regulation

Public protection and the allure of tax revenues

Online gambling is apparently high on the agenda of Eastern European nations Romania and Moldova, primarily to generate tax revenues for the state, reports the publication Mediafax.

In Romania, Finance Ministry secretary of state Bogdan Dragoi, told Mediafax that online gambling might be regulated and authorised as a way to attract considerable sums of money to the national budget. The Finance Minister indicated that he wants to have an investigation carried out in a market where it is estimated that Romanians wager up to Euro 500 million on online gambling sites.

The minister revealed that last year Romania amended the law regulating traditional gambling and increased gambling authorisation taxes, which triggered revenues totaling 550 million lei (Euro1=RON4.1756), compared to 120 million in 2008.

"After the law was amended, gambling revenues increased considerably," the minister said, adding, "...we are looking into ways to regulate online gambling, and, if we manage to control money [tax] collection, we will authorise them."

At present Romanian law neither bans nor allows cross border online gambling, but forbids the involvement of Romanian companies.

On June 14 this year the Moldova government announced a project financed by the European Union which involves the amendment of the country's gambling laws, especially in regard to the regulation of online gambling.

The project was requested by the Moldovan Ministry of the Economy and is being conducted with the advice and support of Dr. Michael Hettich and Dr Wulf Hambach of the Hambach & Hambach law firm in Germany.

The newly drafted law is intended to replace most existing gambling legislation, putting in place an improved, more comprehensive structure of gambling regulation. To address these requirements, the project provided comprehensive advice on legal frameworks in the area of gambling and betting, prepared a section of legislation to address internet and other remote gambling, and made recommendations on amendments to the Draft Gambling Law, including the regulation of remote gambling via the Internet and other means of communication.

Online gambling is currently not regulated in the Republic of Moldova, and this situation has generated legal problems, specifically with the granting of a licence for online lottery activity in April this year, which has been unable to advance.

Government spokesmen have confirmed that a large number of Moldova residents are already participating in online games offered by international operators, and a recent press statement indicates that the major operators involved are PokerStars and Party Gaming, which are likely to be in the running for the first licenses under the new laws, once introduced.

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