Romanian Gambling Restrictions Face Constitutional Review by Supreme Court

The new land-based gambling restrictions ordered by Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu must undergo a re-examination by the Constitutional Court of Romania before being implemented as federal law.

Romanian gambling restrictions to undergo constitutional review before implementation.

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This decision was made by the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice, which is responsible for evaluating the proposed changes to Romania’s Criminal Code.

To make changes to the Criminal Code, the Supreme Court has mandated a ‘constitutional review’ for the measure that bans gambling establishments in towns with fewer than 15,000 registered inhabitants.

Related: Bulgaria Gambling Ad Ban Bill Progresses in Parliament

No Slot Machines in Towns of Less than 15,000

In April, PM Ciolacu authorized the executive order for the ‘Legea Păcănelelor’ (The Pannel Law), which was approved by Parliament. The law would make federal modifications to Romania’s Criminal Code, making it illegal to operate slot-machine gaming devices without a municipal license and ensuring that gambling venues are situated in localities with more than 15,000 inhabitants.

Penalties for violating these provisions range from three months to one year of imprisonment or a fine. Additionally, issuing a false population size certificate by the town hall can result in six months to three years of imprisonment.

The Supreme Court reviewed the main provision banning gambling in smaller towns and found it to violate Romania’s ‘bicameral principle’ regarding the sanctioning of federal laws. The proposed measures were identified as having “constitutional flaws of both an extrinsic and intrinsic nature.”

Significantly, the Supreme Court highlighted deficiencies in the law concerning the determination of which towns would be subject to the new rules and how affected venues would be required to relocate. Further complications arise from the lack of clarity in enforcing these regulations, especially in rural areas where municipal resources are limited. The absence of compensation for local businesses impacted by the new restrictions has also been a contentious issue among stakeholders.

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Government Committed to Responsible Gambling

The government’s commitment to strict gambling regulations is clear, with PM Ciolacu emphasizing the need to protect public welfare over economic gains from gambling activities. This commitment is underscored by the recent appointment of Cristian-Gabriel Pascu as the Vice President of the National Gambling Office (ONJN).

As the government navigates these legislative challenges, the focus remains on ensuring a controlled and regulated gambling environment, prioritizing the well-being of its citizens. PM Ciolacu stands firm on the executive measures of the Legea Păcănelelor, describing it as the most comprehensive action to “end the exploitation of gambling across 90% of Romanian towns.”


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