Gaming Licensing in Eastern Europe: Part 2

Dec 12, 2017 Artyom Ustinov

Gaming Licensing in Eastern Europe: Part 1 told you everything about the casino licensing in 5 countries. Today let’s talk about the gambling industry status and special aspects of licensing in Romania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Czech Republic.

Licensing in Romania

  • Different license types
  • High-priced licenses
  • A temporary license for the resort area

This country is a real “gambling path-breaker” (when it comes to Eastern part of the Europe). The relevant legislation was introduced in 1991. The same year “Casinos Austria International” has opened grandiose brick and mortar “Casino Bucharest”.

The National Gambling Office was founded a year later & the compulsory licensing was initiated in 1998.

However, the Romanian gambling history is more complex and confusing. Before 2014, all online casinos were in the “grey area”. But now online gambling is also authorized and needs a license.

As of December 2017, there are 2 types of licenses in Romania. Class 1 license is granted to the online-operators having direct contracts with players. Class 2 license works for traditional and online-operators, gambling soft providers, affiliates, and test labs etc.

The annual fee rates vary as well. For the Class 1 license, it depends on the turnover and is from €6 000 to €120 000. For the Class 2, it’s €6 000.

Class 1 and 2 licenses are valid for 10 years (renewed yearly). The adjacent taxes are 16% of the organizer’s income from games of chance (but not less than €100 000).

The special “temporary games” license allows organizing the games of chance in tourist resorts and cruise ships for 3 months.

The minimum value of subscribed and paid-up share capital is RON 1 mln. (about €216 000).

Romanian/EU/EEA/Swiss Confederation Member State legally established legal person may apply for the license. However, it’s necessary to open a Romanian bank account to store the players’ deposits. It’s operator’s obligation to have a Romanian mirror server containing centralized reports summarising daily financial results & activity. All this data should be stored for 5 years.

Licensing in Montenegro

  • Separate licenses for each gambling type
  • Affordable licenses & taxes
  • Not on the UK Gambling Commission whitelist

Gambling is legit since 2006 (a year the “Law of the Games of Chances” had passed and the “E-Gambling Montenegro” commission was founded). Web gambling is legal since 2011 and is subject to the same rules as traditional gambling.

The main peculiarity of Montenegrin gambling licensing is an operator’s obligation to apply for a separate license for every game type. Operator’s expenses grow as you need to pay for each license.

As for the rest, the licensing process is pretty straightforward. The operator needs to open an LLC or a joint-stock company in Montenegro, open a Montenegrin bank account, and pay for the license (or licenses), which is from €15 000 to €20 000. Any bank account opened overseas must be approved by E-Gambling Montenegro.

The license should be renewed yearly (€15 000). The corporate tax is 9%, which is twopenny-worth compared to the taxes in other European countries.

However, there’s one flaw in Montenegrin licensing system. Many payment processors and banks refuse to work with the operators obtaining Montenegrin license. Besides that, the Montenegrin licenses are not on the UK Gambling Commission whitelist (a collection of the most trustworthy licenses).

Licensing in Serbia

  • Low taxes
  • A war with illegal gambling
  • Rigid hardware/software suite requirements

In 2012 the “Games of Chance Act” legitimized the gambling industry in Serbia. Up to 2012, the country was an “illegal gambling paradise”, so no wonder the government is forced to tackle gambling crime. Police raids on illegal game rooms and blocking the unlicensed sites is a common thing in Serbia.

Every foreign operator must open a legal company in Serbia and all the servers should also be Serbia-based. There’s also an obligation to deposit a bank guarantee of €150,000 in a Serbian bank and keep a daily amount of €10,000 as a risk deposit.

All the info stored on the casino servers (players, winnings, and transactions) should be kept for 5 years.

The license is valid for 10 years (renewed yearly).

One of the advantages the Serbian licenses have is a low tax — 5% of GGR (but not less than €7 500 per month). Besides that, the operator pays a monthly fee of €2 500.

The advertising restrictions are pretty standard. The operator needs to put a warning of the prohibition of participation of minors (18 years).

The Serbian gambling market is coming into being, but the low taxes speed up the process and increase its investment-attractiveness.

Licensing in the Czech Republic

  • Minimum license cost but the great sums of security deposits
  • Standard age restrictions
  • High taxes

Titulary gambling is legit here since 1990. Nevertheless, the foreign market players first entered the Czech market only in 2017 — the year a new “Gambling Act” appeared.

The Ministry of Finance controls the Czech gambling industry and supervises the licensing process.

The basic license (€200) is valid up to 6 years. The operator pays a security deposit worth €1,1 million (for online gambling). If you aim to provide the players with several types of gambling services (e.g., live games + internet gambling) separate security deposits should be paid for each game type.

All the servers should be located in the Czech Republic or EU & EEA member state.

The gambling tax is 23% of GGR. The Czech operators also pay the income tax, which is 19% of the net revenue (the EU/EEA operators don’t need to pay it).

Requirements and standards in place are simple to implement. You only need to place a counter indicating the time the gambler spent playing and a standard warning that internet games may be harmful. Plus all the gamblers should be 18 years old or older.

Every Eastern European country described in this post gives you a unique opportunity to increase your brand’s visibility and take on a new market. Every country has its own lure for the operator: low taxes, simple licensing process or a low license cost. All you have to do is choose a region that works for your marketing strategy and start the expansion right away. Best of luck!

Artyom Ustinov

Artyom is Head of White Label & Turnkey Solutions and has been working in complex B2B/B2C sales, as well as business development and management consulting in iGaming for more than 10 years.

Together with the Key Account Management Team, he has helped over 100 start-ups and experienced gaming companies to launch their projects with SoftGamings.

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