In Romania, the organization and operation of gambling games is regulated by Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 (GEO 77/2009) on the organization and exploitation of gambling games and the Government Decision no. 111/2016 approving the Methodological Norms (the Methodological Norms) issued for the application of the GEO 77/2009.
The Romanian competent authority in this field is the Romanian National Office for Gambling (ONJN), a specialist body subordinated to the Government of Romania with responsibilities relating to the authorisation, monitoring and control of gambling activities.
In order to operate in the online gambling field in Romania, the payment processors must obtain a license from the ONJN, as detailed below.
I. Licensing obligations under the Romanian legal framework.
According to GEO 77/2009:
- any undertakings involved in activities associated with the field of remote gambling games in Romania, for example operators offering management and hosting facilities on their gambling platform, payment processors, software producers and distributors, affiliates, certifiers and auditors, are required to obtain a license from the ONJN Monitoring Committee in order to undertake this type of activities, in accordance with the Methodological Norms;
- for the online gambling games, the payment methods and money instruments used, including bank cards (or pre-paid cards), must be operated by a payment processor licensed by ONJN;
- the licensed online gambling operators are required to make payments to players (payment of winnings and return of money paid in by players) only via payment processors licensed by the ONJN .
II. Which entities are qualifying as payment processors? Definitions.
The term “payment processor” has been defined in the Methodological Norms as:
(i) the payment services provider as defined in Government Emergency Ordinance no. 113/2009 regarding payment services, including payment services providers as defined by Law no. 127/2011 regarding the issuance of electronic money, which make payments for gambling activities (credit institutions, authorised payment institutions, e-money issuers); and/or
(ii) the traditional gambling organizers that top up or withdraw funds in the name and on behalf of remote gambling organizers into and from the participant’s account, based on remote game of chance organizer’s prior authorization.
Government Emergency Ordinance no. 113/2009 and Law no. 127/2011 are transposing into the national law the Payment Services Directive 64/2007 (repealed by the second Payment Services Directive – PSD2) and the second E-money Directive 110/2009.
III. What kind of license? Validity.
The payment processors must obtain a class II license from the ONJN. The class II license is valid for a period of 10 years, provided that the relevant fees are paid as follows:
a) for the first year, by the 25th day of the month following the month in which the documentation submitted by the payment processor is approved; and
b) for the next years, at least 10 days before each one-year anniversary.
The Class II license fee is EUR 6,000.
In order to obtain a class II license, a payment processor must be authorised as a payment services provider (in any EEA country); it must have the necessary means and the necessary personnel for carrying out the activity; and must submit to ONJN the required documentation (e.g., application form, corporate documents, certain shareholders and directors affidavits, proof of authorisation, fiscal certificates, police clearance certificates, etc.).
The Class II license is granted starting on the 1st day of the following month after the one in which, after the approval of the documentation, the payment processor has paid the fee.
A payment services provider operating in the online gambling field without having obtained from ONJN of the class II licence may be sanctioned with a fine that may range from RON 50,000 (approx. EUR 11,000) to RON 100,000 (approx. EUR 22,000) and confiscation of the related amounts resulting from the contravention. In addition, complementary sanctions may be applied (e.g., closing the unit, blocking the bank account, suspension of the economic activity).