Romania bans gambling in small communities

Lea Hogg 1 month ago
Romania bans gambling in small communities

In a bold move to curb the influence of the gambling industry, Romania has passed a law banning gambling venues in small towns and villages with populations of less than 15,000 residents. This law, known as the “law of slot machines,” was unanimously passed by deputies in the lower house of parliament. Alfred Simonis, the leader of the Social Democrats, hailed it as the first law adopted in Parliament in 30 years against the gambling industry, which he referred to as a mafia that has controlled the political world until now.

The gambling industry, which Simonis claims has a total turnover of €10-12 billion, has expressed dissatisfaction with the new law. Industry figures have complained about not being consulted and expressed hope that the authorities will control the black market as they promised.

Despite the unanimous vote, there was some dissent within the chamber. Two opposition parties that want to ban the “scourge” of gambling outright accuse the government of collusion with the gaming sector for not taking a stronger position. Ionut Mosteanu, the leader of the opposition USR, (pictured above), questioned how lawmakers had set the threshold. He argued that the lawmakers seemed to believe that slot machines only damage 15,000 people and questioned why the threshold was not set higher.

Unanimous vote

Over the last few decades, gambling venues have become ubiquitous across Romania. The National Gaming Office, the state body that monitors and approves the sector, has registered 12,000 sports betting, bingo, casino, and lottery rooms. The state collects taxes from gambling venue licenses and online ticket sales, as well as from the amount betting houses spend on advertising.

There are no recent data to indicate how many people in Romania are addicted to gambling. The last survey, conducted in 2016, suggested that there could be around 100,000 addicted people across the country. The number today could be much higher. Recent research carried out by Save the Children shows that one in seven children in Romania spends money on gambling, while one in 10 lives in families where one of the parents does. This alarming statistic underscores the urgency of addressing the issue of gambling addiction in the country. The new law is a step in that direction, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be in curbing the influence of the gambling industry.

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