New Legislation on Gambling – the Second Part: The New Gambling Products Regulated by the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014

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Published in “Casino Inside”, issue 52

As anticipated in the last issue of the magazine, in the current edition we shall present the new types of gambling games, as regulated by the legislation in the gambling field, in force as of February 13th, 2015.

Betting exchange

Betting exchange, regulated for the first time in Romania, consists in correlating bets between various players, accepting a bet placed by one player only if another player can be identified as placing a bet contrary to the initial one. The value of each win is determined by the players.

While traditional (offline) betting exchange can be organised in betting shops, remote (online) betting exchange is organised and transmitted via any communication system (internet, fixed or mobile telephone system or any other transmission system).

This “stock market for bets”, internationally known as ‘betting exchange’, was first launched in the UK and is provided by EU operators in various countries such as Denmark, Hungary and Malta.

Mutual bets no longer under the monopoly of the Romanian Lottery

One of the novelties in the recent legislative changes is related to the Romanian Lottery losing its monopoly on mutual betting (both offline and online) and remaining sole organizer only for lotto games, as of February 13th, 2015. This means that the organizers of betting games can choose between three types of betting games to be lawfully organized in Romania: (i) fixed odds betting, (ii) mutual betting and (iii) betting exchange.

We remind our readers that in the case of betting exchange games, the prize is distributed among the participants declared winners directly proportional to the number of winning options each of them has; the organiser is involved only in the process of collecting the participation fees and distributing the amounts established as prizes, in compliance with the rules of the game in question.

Tombola

Under the new regulation, tombola represents the activity of drawing numbers, letters or other symbols, regardless of the characteristics of the equipment used to make the draw (cups, drums, wheels and other similar equipment), whether or not organized with the players physically present; the prizes are fixed and do not depend on the number or the price of the tickets sold, or of the stubs, tokens and other evidence of participation in the tombola.

The winners (or a predetermined number of participants) will be established by means of a random draw in compliance with rules posted in advance and approved by the ONJN Supervisory Committee. Tombolas may take the form of remote or traditional games of chance, while the prizes may only be issued in kind and must have a minimum value no lower than 50 % of the total value of the stakes paid to participate in the game.

Temporary gambling games

According to the amended legislation, temporary gambling games represent (i) gambling games characteristic to casinos, (ii) slot-machine games type or (iii) bingo games organised in gaming halls, for which a gambling organiser has obtained an organiser’s licence and an operator’s authorisation for a period of three months with the possibility of an extension of a maximum three more months; they also include The Poker Festival – traditional game and a temporary event consisting of a poker tournament which takes place exclusively between participants in halls (premises) within accommodation establishments, in compliance with the rules approved by the ONJN Supervisory Committee.

Online casinos

Remote casino type game represent the gambling games characteristic to casinos (traditional game) or gambling games characteristic to poker clubs, played entirely without the players being physically present, organised by the same operator, on the same gaming platform, using a single internet domain, and which are organised and transmitted via any communication system (internet, fixed or mobile telephone system or any other transmission system).

An objective question that arises is related to whether remote slot-machine games can be lawfully organized in Romania, since they are not expressly mentioned in the current classification of gambling games.

On the one hand, one could interpret that they are actually included in the category of remote casino games, as they are regulated in other jurisdictions. On the other hand, they could be as well included in “any other type of gambling” for which ONJN may grant licenses and authorizations.

However, it seems that this aspect will not be left to the interpretation of the actors in the gaming industry, but will be explicitly clarified by the secondary legislation.

News about slot-machine type games

The new regulation classifies slot-machine games in two categories, namely:

(i) slot machine (if the events are organised with the participants physically present) via specific machines, equipment and installations operated in specialised premises in which gambling games may be played, and winnings are unlimited and dependent on hazard, and

(ii) electronic devices offering limited-risk winnings (if the events are organised with the participants physically present) via specific machines, equipment and installations not operated in specialised premises in which games of chance may be played, and winnings are limited and dependent on hazard.

New games and combination of games

Another novelty of the regulations in force as of February 13, 2015 is that ONJN may grant licenses and authorizations for any other type of gambling games, namely for new games or combinations of gambling games (online or offline), as defined by the amended legislation.

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