SBC News Romania PM bans gambling in rural towns 

Romania PM bans gambling in rural towns 

Romania’s gambling sector faces further upheavals, following Parliament’s approval of an executive order by Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu to enforce ‘Legea Păcănelelor’ (The Pannel Law). 

Yesterday, PM Ciolacu declared a victory for Romania’s PSD-&-PNL coalition government, who secured approval to implement a ban on “gambling localities in towns with less than 15,000 registered inhabitants”

The law was authorised by a vote taken in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday afternoon, which secured “243 votes in favour of the law’s adoption, four abstentions, and two deputies who did not vote.” 

Romanian news sources revealed that PM Ciolacu had fast-tracked the Law to be voted on by the Chamber of Deputies, by signing its draft as an ‘executive order’. 

The ban on gambling localities will account for gambling venues and gaming machines in retail/leisure venues within small towns or rural communities with less than 15,000 inhabitants. 

PM Ciolacu lauded Parliament’s decision stating: “The good old days of those who profited greedily by selling people’s illusions are over. The Parliament voted today to remove gambling slums from more than 90 percent of the localities in Romania.” 

The Law will impact the businesses of Romania’s 27 licensed operators of betting offices including market leaders SuperBet, StanleyBet, Casa Pariurilor (Fortuna Entertainment) and Mozzart Kladionica. 

Authorised by the Chamber of Deputies, “the ban will become effective 10 days after the law is officially enacted”, and as stands the Law carries  no plans to compensate local merchants.  

Prior to yesterday’s announcement, Romanian observers were monitoring the coalition government’s developments related to reorganising the leadership of National Gambling Office (ONJN).

Controversy has surrounded PM Ciolacu’s appointment of novice councillor Cristian-Gabriel Pascu to serve as the VP of the Gambling Office, a hairstylist and beauty salon owner with no experience in gambling or government. 

Pascu will be in charge of enforcing the Office’s supervisory rulings on gambling operations and penalties as the Ministry of Finance  applies a stricter enforcement of tax collections on gambling licences in 2024. 

PM Ciolacu endorsed tougher measures on gambling operators as “protecting people must be the priority, not some extra money brought to the budget obtained on the suffering of people.” 

“We have increased gambling taxes, better regulated the field, banned gambling in towns with less than 15,000 inhabitants, and will continue to take measures until things are under control. I am not afraid of anyone and I will go to the end on this matter”. 

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