Objections to Romanian online gambling regulations

Discriminatory clauses a cause for concern

The first draft of a proposed bill to regulate online gambling in Romania has fallen foul of the European Commission, which has issued a detailed opinion expressing reservations about the compatibility of the proposal with European Union law.

Romania will as a consequence not be able to implement the law in its current form.

The European Gaming and Betting Association, a trade body representing the interests of most of Europe’s major internet gambling companies, commented on the opinion this week.

“EGBA welcomes the Romanian government’s willingness to reform its online gaming and betting market. However, EGBA notes that Romania is the third country in the last 12 months to receive a detailed opinion from the European Commission and will have, as in the case of Denmark and Poland, to re-notify and adjust its draft legislation.” said Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA.

After analyzing the draft legislation, EGBA has identified a number of provisions in the draft which are highly doubtful under EU law. This includes:

* The discriminatory prohibition of marketing and advertising activities for EU licensed companies which are not authorised in Romania

* The requirement for EU licensed online betting companies to have their servers in Romania

* The requirement for EU licensed online companies to be established in Romania

* The unjustified exclusion of online pool betting while all other forms of online gambling would be allowed.

“While we support Romania’s legitimate wish to regulate its online gaming market, it is important from a consumer protection perspective that national gambling policies are consistent,” Ligne added. “As confirmed by the ECJ in its recent rulings, there are less restrictive means than forced establishment to monitor and control the online gaming and betting market.”

The Romanian draft legislation was notified to the European Commission and Member States on 2 July 2010. The detailed opinion extends the standstill period until 3 November, during which time Romania cannot adopt its draft legislation.

Romania is required to reply to the Commission’s views; if it fails to take into account the Commission’s objections, the Commission could decide to launch infringement proceedings.

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