Online casinos in Romania are regulated and licensed by the National Gambling Office. Laws passed in 2010 set the stage for legal online gambling, but it was only in late 2014 that the laws were sufficiently amended to actually issue licenses to gambling websites wishing to serve the Romanian market.
Today, it is 100% legal to play casino games online with approved operators. Current gaming laws do include a mechanism to fine players who play at unauthorized gambling sites, but it seems authorities have yet to enforce any penalties on players who do choose to visit sites that are not licensed. Even so, we believe the wisest decision is to stick with Romanian casino sites that hold valid licenses.
The following sites are licensed to conduct online gambling in Romania:
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The National Gambling Office (NGO) also maintains a list of licensed online casinos. If you would like to verify whether or not any particular gambling site holds a legitimate license, you can visit the NGO website to see which sites are approved.
How Romania Legalized Online Casinos
Romania has been a gambling-friendly nation for much of its history. Even as far back as the early 1900s, Romania was home to some truly magnificent casinos that attracted high society types from around the world. Nicolae Ceaușescu banned gambling during his communist rule from 1965 to 1989, but gambling was reinstated shortly after his overthrow and execution.
A healthy brick-and-mortar casino industry developed throughout the 1990s and exists to this day. It took lawmakers until 2009 to formally address online gambling, and at first they sought to prohibit Romanian casino sites.
Government Emergency Ordinance 77/2009 was passed to replace prior gambling legislation regarding real-world gambling, but also included text that made it an offense to organize gambling games over the internet or other “communication systems.” However, this law was not enforced and the government retracted it the following year as it announced plans to legalize and regulate online gambling.
Law No. 246/2010 was enacted in 2010 with the purpose of regulating and licensing online sports betting, casino games, poker and bingo. This law was short on details as far as how licenses would actually be awarded, but drafters noted they would pass secondary legislation at a later point to provide direction.
That secondary legislation would come to pass in the form of Government Decision No. 823/2011. This law created the legal framework for licensing and regulating Romanian casino sites and sportsbooks. Among other conditions, the law required would-be applicants to be formed as domestic legal entities and to hold licenses to conduct real-world gambling in Romania.
These last two conditions in particular raised eyebrows at the European Commission. The Commission quickly issued opinions that found the Romanian online gambling legislation to be in violation of EU free trade laws. To offer a simple explanation, the EU’s problem with the law was that it essentially set up road blocks to free trade. It gave advantages to domestic companies over international companies, which is a definite no-no according to EU agreements.
Romanian politicians took the European Commission’s rebuke seriously and set out to rework their gambling laws. Besides, something needed to be done anyways. Three years after the passage of Law No. 246/2010, not a single license had been issued as there was still no regulatory body in place.
In 2013, the government finally took action and formed the National Gambling Office to oversee online gambling in Romania. That website today includes both a whitelist of licensed operators and a blacklist of unauthorized operators that Romanian internet service providers are required to block.
The big break finally came in December of 2014 with the passage of Government Emergency Ordinance 92/2014 to amend GEO 77/2009 and form a regulated market open to both local and international casino companies. The law significantly eased restrictions on international operators, but it did demand back taxes from any company that operated in Romania previously without authorization.
We should also note that Romanian criminal code does include a provision that considers it a “minor offence” for players caught doing business with unlicensed gambling websites and can result in a fine of RON 5,000 to RON 10,000. We do not believe there is any reason to worry too much about this aspect of the law as it appears to be unenforced to any real extent.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.