Despite the potential of the local gambling market, Romania isn’t appealing to casino operators.
It wouldn’t take too much effort to help Romania’s gambling industry grow and blossom. The demand for Romanian poker rooms and online casinos is there, but potential investors are still waiting on authorities to do their part, in order to ensure a stable and productive market.
But it seems like the industry is not moving forward and there are various reasons why this is happening. A quick analysis of what has been going on in Romania over the past few years shows that it will be a very long time before this country offers the stable and safe environment investors are looking for.
Here are four reasons why we think Romania will not become Europe’s next big gambling destination anytime soon.
1. Because gambling is still seen as morally unacceptable. If you ask them what they think about gambling, most Romanians will tell you that it’s a vice. Even professional poker players are often marginalized, despite the fact that poker is a game of skill and not just a simple game of chance. Most people believe that gambling is a sin or a waste of money and condemn this hobby.
The media doesn’t help to get rid of these misconceptions either, as most news about gamblers are presented in a negative way. Whether they’re about policemen caught playing betting machines while on duty, or some drunk spending all of his hard-earned money on slot machines, things certainly do not look good.
A beautiful ruin
Located on the seaside, the Constanta Casino was built in 1910 thanks to an initiative of King Carol I of Romania.
Designed by architect Daniel Renard, the beautifully decorated Art Nouveau building had a spacious dance hall, two lecture rooms, two large spaces for casino games and a spectacular terrace looking over the sea.
The monument was restored in 1986.
2. The unwelcoming online casino market doesn’t help the development of the gambling industry either. Legislation regarding online gambling sites in Romania is still hazy. State authorities require internet casino operators to be based in the country in order to obtain a license. Clearly no one is willing to do that, as no companies have applied for a Romanian gambling license yet.
The National Gambling Office is even considering blocking foreign operators, but luckily the European Commission intervened to make sure that Romanian authorities guarantee free movement of services for EU-based operators.
3. The crumbling casino in Constanta serves as the perfect example of how ignorant local authorities can be. And it certainly makes for one very good reason why Romania will not become the next big gambling destination in Europe.
The majestic historic building, a listed monument, is located on a promenade beside the Black Sea. A closer look at this amazing piece of architecture reveals the sad truth: that the casino is nothing more than a breathtaking ruin, with broken windows, curling paint and rusted railings. It could be one of the most beautiful gambling venues in Europe, if only authorities cared enough to save it.
In 2012, a Romanian gambling company made huge profits from selling bingo tickets, then suddenly filed for insolvency to avoid paying prizes, salaries and taxes. The operator was supposed to pay around EUR 1,6 million to players who had won at its bingo games, but got away without paying one cent after owners claimed the company was broke. The same “businessmen” behind this scam have recently started a new bingo operation, under a different company.
Earlier this year, the Romanian Competition Council fined the National Lottery with over EUR 2 million, after discovering that company managers had signed preferential deals for the state video lottery program.