SBC News Romania prohibition of gambling in small towns requires constitutional order 

Romania prohibition of gambling in small towns requires constitutional order 

Land-based gambling restrictions ordered by Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu must be re-examined by the Constitutional Court of Romania to be applied as a federal law.

The judgment was announced by the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice, tasked with evaluating new land-based gambling restrictions that will reform Romania’s Criminal Code.

To impose changes to Romania’s Criminal Code, the Supreme Court has ordered that a ‘constitutional review’ must be applied to the measure of the “prohibition of gambling localities in towns with less than 15,000 registered inhabitants.”

In April, PM Ciolacu authorised the executive order of the Legea Păcănelelor (The Pannel Law), approved by Parliament to impose the headline measure.

The law requires federal changes to Romania’s Criminal Code, making it a crime to operate slot-machine gaming devices without a municipal license, confirming a gambling venue is in a locality with over 15,000 inhabitants.

Penalties for violations range from three months to one year of imprisonment or a fine, while issuing a false population size certificate by the town hall is punishable by six months to three years of imprisonment.

Examined by the Supreme Court, the headline measure of prohibition of gambling in rural towns was deemed to violate Romania’s ‘bicameral principle’ on how federal laws are sanctioned, as measures proposed contain “constitutional flaws of both an extrinsic and intrinsic nature.”

Of significance, the Supreme Court detailed the law’s deficiency in how it will determine which Romanian towns will be subject to the law and how it will require impacted venues to relocate gambling localities.

Further complications arise from the lack of clarity regarding the enforcement of these regulations, especially in rural areas where municipal resources may be limited. Additionally, the absence of compensation for local businesses affected by the relocation mandates has been a point of contention among stakeholders.

The government’s commitment to stringent gambling regulations is evident, with PM Ciolacu emphasizing the need to protect public welfare over economic gains from gambling activities. 

This is underscored by the recent appointment of Cristian-Gabriel Pascu as the Vice President of the National Gambling Office (ONJN), despite his lack of experience in gambling or government, raising concerns about effective enforcement.

As the government navigates its legislative challenges, the focus remains on ensuring a controlled and regulated gambling environment, prioritizing the well-being of its citizens.

PM Ciolacu stands by the executive measures of the Legea Păcănelelor as the most comprehensive action to “end the exploitation of gambling across 90% of Romanian towns. ” 

Though deferred from its summer enforcement, Parliament remains confident that the prohibition measure will stand, which the government proposes no compensation for Romania’s 27 licensed operators of betting offices, including market leaders SuperBet, StanleyBet, Casa Pariurilor (Fortuna Entertainment), and Mozzart Kladionica.

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