Published: 26 January, 2024

The state of Romania

There has been a notable influx of operators, suppliers and other gambling bodies entering the Romanian market since December. Has this all just been a coincidence, or is something more afoot? Trafficology investigates...

In the span of a month, from early December 2023 to early January 2024, at least seven separate companies announced expansion efforts plans in the European nation of Romania. Soft2Bet launched a new site,, BGaming partnered with local operator WinBet to supply over 40 of its games and US management advisory firm SCCG Management partnered with Romanian distributor Baum Games, just to name a few. So, what is going on in Romania and why has it become such a hotbed of activity in recent months?

History of gambling in Romania
After the occupying Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, gambling activity was once again legalised in Romania, having previously been outlawed under Soviet rule. The country opened its first land-based casino in 1991 and online gambling was legalised in 2010 for operators able to receive a government licence. It wasn’t until 2013 that Romania created a government body to oversee the gambling industry, called the National Gambling Office (ONJN).
  “Currently, there are around 475 Class 2 licences for suppliers in the gambling field (game suppliers, platform suppliers, affiliates, payment processors, auditor, certifiers, land-based machines suppliers etc) issued by the Romanian regulator since 2016 and that are still in force,” explains Anna-Maria Baciu. She is a regulatory and intellectual property lawyer and member of the Romanian National Chamber of Intellectual Property Attorneys and Partner at Simion & Baciu.
  One factor that contributed to today’s accelerated market growth rate was the Euro 2020 football championship. During the event, online gaming participation increased 90%, which resulted in operators obtaining government licences to launch in Romania and suppliers partnering with a variety of bodies to get their games out to market in the months that follows. Through 2021 and 2022, migration to Romania’s online gaming market saw Gambling Insider reporting on new partnerships and operator licences an average of once per month. But in the month spanning December to January, Gambling Insider reported on at least seven occasions on activity in Romania.
  “The interest in Romanian Class 2 licences has been constant along the years,” Baciu tells Trafficology. “Holding them offers the obvious compliance and market access-associated benefits, but also might respond to other business-related perspectives as, among others, it provides ground for recognition notices. Looking at the regulatory framework in some other jurisdictions, such as Malta for example, recognition certificates are issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) whereby an authorisation issued by another Member State of the EU or the EEA, or a State which is deemed to offer safeguards largely equivalent to those offered by Maltese law, is recognised as having the same effect as an authorisation issued by MGA for the purpose of providing a gaming service or gaming supply in or from Malta.”

Growing around obstacles
In early October, Romanian gambling regulation was altered. The amendment was a mixed bag; on one hand, it prohibited the sale of alcohol at casinos carrying slot machines and drastically increased annual responcible gaming fees (up 15x for B2B organisers and 100x for B2C organisers) but on the other, it levelled the annual licence fee for B2C operators, opting to scrap the system that determined licence fees based on annual turnover. Baciu commented that, despite this new financial change, growth has remained consistent.
  “In October 2023, the Romanian primary gambling legislation was amended, resulting in a heavy increase to the burden on licencees (both Class 1 and Class 2 licencees). For example, for class 2 licencees the annual fee has increased from €10,000 ($10,887) to €20,000, while the annual responsible contribution has been increased from €1,000 to €15,000. Irrespective of this, we continue to see interest from foreign companies in obtaining Romanian licences, proof of the market’s stability.”

What can we expect?
As we leave 2023 and enter 2024, growth in the Romanian market has continued at pace. One of the companies to enter Romania this year, BGaming, commented on the market. CCO Olga Levshina said: “The Romanian iGaming landscape has enjoyed promising levels of growth in recent years and BGaming is excited to continue establishing its position.” Moreover, according to Baciu, of the 475 class 2 licences issued by the ONJN, “There are between 140 and 150 licences issued for software/game suppliers, with around 25 issued in 2023 alone. Thus, based on the official data that we encompass in our market analysis, we would argue that the trend is quite stable, as backed by the numbers.”
  So, can we expect more brands to begin applying for Romanian licences, or partnering with Romanian operators? Most likely. While the growth seen over the past month may taper, we doubt it will conclude anytime soon. Brands have noticed the value in the market and have been drawn to it like moths to flames, making attitudes towards the Romanian market somewhat similar to market trends in Ontario.
  However, cautions speculated by Baciu also reflect the realities of the market in Ontario: of oversaturation and operating costs causing operators to back out of a new market. This is compounded especially by the aforementioned licence fee increases. She explains: “The impact/effect of the tax increases, the potential adjustments on the market from this perspective, should be assessed by the end of 2024. It is our expectation that there might be shifts in the market, where depending on the size of their business, part of the existing licensees might surrender their licences at their respective anniversary dates.”
  Whether this analysis will come to fruition is yet to be seen. However, if this comparison remains, it is likely the prominence of the Romanian market will continue.