Out of the 12 countries in the Balkan Peninsula, Romania has the largest population (without considering the non-Balkan part of Turkey). Aside from it’s dense population, this southeastern European country is graced with natural thermic spas, spectacular government buildings, medieval towns, farmsteads, forests and even beach resorts.
When it comes to the country’s gambling industry and atmosphere, it can be described with one phrase: above average! There are dozens of casinos spread throughout the country, featuring table games, slots, video poker and other popular game varieties.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Romania:
Casino Bucharest at Hotel InterContinental Bucharest
Casino Game World at Hotel Continental Sibiu
Grand Casino Bucharest at JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel
Grand Casino Romania
La Grande Vie Casino
Lido Casino & Lido Hotel
Metropolis Casino at Hotel Novotel Bucharest City Centre
Peles Castle and Sinaia Casino
Perla Princess Casino
Planet Princess Slot Casino
Platinum Casino Bucharest at Hotel Radisson Blu
Plaza Casino Club
Queen Casino at Howard Johnson Grand Plaza Bucharest
Sofin Hotel & Casino
Star Casino Bucharest
Viva! Electronic Casino Bucharest
The first appearance of gambling in Romania was not documented, but it is believed that casinos have been in operation for more than a century. Prior to casinos, the Compania Națională Loteria Română was established in 1906 to generate funds. The first casino (or, as called in those days, gambling house) to ever open in Romania is quite difficult to determine due to the lack of information. Nonetheless, many believe the Casino Constanța to have held the title.
In 1910, the casino was opened in Constanța by the local government, with the goal of attracting foreigners and wealthy locals — which it did. The casino generated more funds for social development and added more to the fame of the city. In fact, the casino became so widely known that the Russian Imperial family once visited it in 1914. Unfortunately, that was around the time the First World War began. During the war, the casino suffered a number of damages and was later turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers and civilians.
As the Second World War was nearing an end, the facility reopened as a casino once again after it was bombed. This was when the gambling scene of Romania changed dramatically, and the casino had to shut down its operations because the country became a repressive communist state under the USSR. Like other communist states (and, in Romania’s case, governed by strict anti-gambling leader Nicolae Ceaușescu), gambling was declared illegal and was strictly prohibited by introducing penalties — all except the Loteria Română.
Interestingly, the aforementioned building reopened again — this time, as a bar and restaurant. But in the 1990s, the costs to run and renovate the building became a burden so it was ultimately closed. Rumour had it that in April 2015 the casino would be renovated, which would cost the Ministry of Culture €9.2 million and almost three years.
As of May 2018, the casino has witnessed little to no renovations and the damaged building is now locally considered historic and historical—reinforced by its location beside the Black Sea and the marine-inspired decoration.
After the country ended its communist rule in 1989 (thanks to the Romanian Revolution), the anti-gambling rules were scrapped when the Constitution of Romania was passed on November 21, 1991. As a result, brand new gambling facilities opened in the capital municipality of Bucharest and other major counties. Casino Bucharest at Hotel InterContinental was the first to open in the year.
Palace Casino Bucharest followed suit in 1993, which — in its prime — was the largest casino in Romania. It was built as an extension of the House of Vernescu (constructed in 1892) during a complete reconstruction. But, it has been closed down since April 2012.
Casinos and other gambling facilities were not regulated at the time because there were no gambling laws in effect. Operators took advantage of the situation by operating without paying any form of tax or fee. In fact, the state-owned operator Compania Națională Loteria Română (National Company for Romanian Lottery) was caught in a recent scandal to have operated several slot machines without licensing, regulations, and paying taxes.
Meanwhile, the unregulated gambling industry attracted debates as soon as Romania joined the European Union on January 1, 2007. But before the country joined the EU, sports betting witnessed foreign investment in 2003 so as to show the Union the country’s readiness. Coupled with EU requirements and rules and rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Romanian authorities had no choice but to properly regulate both online and land-based gambling operations.
Regulations and taxation were then applicable to land-based and online gambling thanks to an act passed in 2010. In April 2013, the Romanian National Gambling Office (Oficiul National pentru Jocuri de Noroc) was established as the sole gambling regulatory authority in Romania, with several departments, execution public and contract positions under the Management, a President, and a Committee for issuing gambling licences to both online and land-based licensees.
Initially, the National Gambling Office instructed all online gambling operators to establish land-based facilities before qualifying as a legal gambling operator. In addition, every individual poker wager on the Internet would be taxed. Thanks to the European Commission, both rules were later discarded in May 2015 because it violated EU rules and regulations. Instead, the Romanian authorities ordered online operators to apply for a license and successfully obtain it before executing operations. For the online poker tax scheme, it was replaced with the normal Gross Gaming Revenue.
According to the current laws, practically all forms of gambling are legal in Romania. These are betting (pari-mutuel, fixed-odds, and exchange), lottery games, casino games of chance, poker club games of chance, gaming machines (slot machines, video lottery terminals, and “amusement with price” electronic devices), bingo games (in bingo halls and via TV networks), remote casino-type games, bingo and keno games, tombola, any other type of games of chance (typical games of chance but with special licences), and temporary games (games of chance on cruise ships or in tourist resorts).
The only forms of gambling that are not expressed in the gambling laws of Romania are social games, skill games, and games that do not correspond with the definition of gambling in the laws. These are games that do not involve the results of random selection, require a fee to play, or reward players with any form of material winnings.
When all is said and done, the gambling market of Romania is legal, licensed, and regulated. One intriguing aspect of the gambling industry is the number of laws gambling operations are subjected to. These include Law no. 656 of 2002, the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77 of 2009, Government Emergency Ordinance no. 20 of 2013, Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92 of 2014, Law no. 124 of 2015, Law no. 207 of 2015, Law no. 227 of 2015, Government Decision no. 111 of 2016, Order no. 47 of 2016 issued by the President of the National Gambling Office, Order no. 48 of 2016 issued by the President of the National Gambling Office, Order no. 93 of 2016 issued by the President of the National Gambling Office, and Order no. 135 of 2016 issued by the President of the National Gambling Office.
Coupled together, the laws, ordinances, and orders create a well-regulated gambling industry that covers the organisation and operation of land-based and online gambling, the functioning of the National Gambling Office, taxation, prevention of money laundering, and certification and audit of online gambling operations.
After the laws issued in 2015 came into effect, there was a 70% spike in gambling revenues as online gambling operators were mandated to pay respective taxes for the ongoing legal operations and for the initial illegal operations.
Concurrently, the National Gambling Office created a blacklist, which automatically enlisted all major—and even minor—gambling websites that were not licensed in Romania. For an operator to be removed from the list, the operator must pay a tax called ‘back tax’—which was estimated to produce €90 million was introduced. This is calculated as 20% of the Gross Gaming Revenue (GRR) generated by the operator since December 2010 — of course, exclusively in Romania.
As of May 2018, there are 1,045 blacklisted websites enlisted on the official website of the National Gambling Office.
Casino gambling alongside betting, lotteries, poker, gaming machines, and everything in-between have been legal in Romania since 2010. The Romanian National Gambling Office (ONJN) is the regulatory body that handles the licensing, regulations, monitoring, auditing, and taxation of all gambling activities and facilities.
Currently, there are 20 fully equipped casinos spread throughout the country. Romanian casinos are said to charm players at first glance due to their trained, polite, and helpful employees; non-overcrowded yet lively casino floors; exceptional hospitality services; a wide variety of games; VIP rooms; elegant surroundings and beautiful sceneries; and guaranteed discretion and security.
Wagering is carried out in Euros and Romanian Leu (RON), but many stick exclusively with the latter since it is the official currency. In fact, Romania is one of the few EU territories where Euro is not as popular as one would expect. Most casinos have exchange decks where they exchange EUR, RON, and occasionally GBP and USD. Outside of casinos, however, Romanians primarily use RON.
And for communication, 90% of the population speaks Romanian while the remaining speaks English, Italian, French, and German majorly and Russian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Tatar, Croatian, Slovak, Romani, and Turkish slightly.
Similar to other European countries with casinos, the majority of casinos in Romania are situated in its capital, Bucharest. While Bucharest features more than half of the whole figure, Galati, Sibiu, Sinaia, and Timișoara are other areas with at least one casino.
Planet Princess Slot Casino is the largest of all 20 casinos in the country. It offers a wide range of gaming options with around 300 slot machines and an unspecified number of gaming tables. Grand Casino Bucharest at JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel comes in second with roughly 150 gaming machines and 18 gaming tables. With over 80 gaming machines and 18 gaming tables, Platinum Casino Bucharest at Hotel Radisson Blu is the third-largest casino in Romania.
Discussing casinos, most are attached to large, three to five-star hotels with world-class accommodations, restaurants, bars/lounges, pools, spas, and other amenities that provide luxury and premium hospitality for foreigners and locals to relish. An example is Platinum Casino Bucharest at Hotel Radisson Blu; the hotel features 487 rooms and suites, six restaurants, three bars, and many more.
Other facilities function entirely as casinos and are typically located near non-affiliated hotels and/or resorts. This is because most are situated in the capital, and Bucharest features a wealth of hospitality facilities. Worthy of note is that the majority of casinos in Romania provide an exquisite dining area in the casinos themselves.
Players will also find a long list of table games in addition to the always-several slot machines in a typical Romanian casino. Players can wager as little as 1 RON (0.2533 USD) on most slots. Reportedly, there are more than 23,000 licensed gaming machines in Romania provided by over 900 firms.
Available table games include Blackjack, Baccarat/Punto Banco, Craps, Roulette, Texas Hold’Em, Stud Poker, American Roulette, Omaha Poker, 7 Card Stud Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, 3 Card Poker, Duke Poker, and Caribbean Stud Poker.
Apart from casinos, there are numerous poker clubs and slot clubs in the country. Apparently, the former offers poker games while the latter offers slot machines; both are subjected to rules different from casinos and have smaller gaming space and equipment.
Speaking of poker, this is a popular gambling activity in Romania. There are several casinos and poker clubs licensed to offer poker games. and online poker is also popular. Full Tilt and PokerStars (both by Amaya Inc.) are some of the largest online poker brands with a Romanian licence. Players are also allowed to play against foreigners online.
Likewise, bingo is popular in the country. Romania Bingo is one of the two licensed bingo operators, which offers bingo exclusively offline via bingo halls and a bingo TV show, which is very most popular. And the other operator also have diverse bingo halls across the country.
For lotteries and lottery-like games, the Compania Națională Loteria Română is the sole state monopoly. Aspiring lottery operators cannot receive a licence according to the law. The lottery organises many lottery games online and in the several lottery outlets across the country; these are Video Loteria, Loto 6/49 Si Noroc, Rezultate Extrageri, Joker Si Noroc Plus, Pronosport, Prono-S, Loz Instant, Loteria Pasiva, Extragere Loto – Video, and Extrageri Video.
For sports betting, the craze might not be as widespread as compared to the United Kingdom or Spain but the majority of Romanians prefer to bet on sporting events than wager on casino games. Still, many Romanians stake on football/soccer (which is always the most popular sport in any European country), basketball, handball, rugby, tennis, and gymnastics both offline and online.
There are many betting shops and kiosks across the country, thanks to the numerous licensed operators totalling more than 20. Concurrently, a multitude of websites—mostly with .ro domains—offers sports betting (locally called pariuri online) while some offer sports betting with poker and casino games.
Pertaining to online gambling, sports betting and casino gambling are allowed to be offered on the Internet by any licensed operator. In contrast, only the Loteria Română can offer lottery games online. Internet Service Providers have been ordered to block any website violating this rule and players can be prosecuted and/or mandated to pay a fine. This is the case of unlicensed gambling websites as well.
– The minimum gambling age is 18 years old. Players are required to tender their original, valid, government-issued ID card to the assigned employee before being able to enter the casino.
– Dressing codes are not nationally enforced but some casinos use them. While they vary greatly, they circle around avoiding apparels and accessories that hide the face (masks, glasses, hats, etc.) and expose men’s legs (shorts, Capri/three-quarter pants, etc.)
– There are several slot clubs (or gaming halls) across the country, with a number of slot machines, electronic roulette, and video lottery terminals (VLTs). For one, Havanna Princess Slot Club—owned and operated by multinational gaming body Princess International Group—offers 92 gaming machines at the Bucharest City Center 24/7. Founded in 2004, Merkur Sală Jocuri is the largest slot club chain in the country. It has two clubs in Bucharest, one in Buzău, two in Constanţa, one in Craiova, one in Ploieşti, and one in Sibiu.
– Similarly, there are many poker clubs. PokerFest, Poker Room (15 poker tables and 140 seats), and ALL-IN POKER CLUB Bucharest are the most popular poker clubs. They are all located in Bucharest. Each organises diverse cash games and live poker tournaments and festivals, and provide tables for all kinds of poker games: Duke, Omaha, Chinese, Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud, etc. For one, ALL-IN POKER CLUB Bucharest organises ALL-IN CASH TOUR in Bucharest as well as Sibiu (at the Games Pot Poker Club), Craiova (at ALL-IN POKER CLUB Craiova), and Iasi (at the Poker Arena Iasi).
– Palace Casino Bucharest, located in the heart of Bucharest, offers a bar and a restaurant; they provide slot and live game players with mouth-watering drinks and foods completely free.
– Platinum Casino Bucharest at Hotel Radisson Blu is the only casino accredited by the Romanian Accreditation Association (RENAR), the national accreditation association of the Romanian government.
– On December 7, 2017, Romanian gambling website NetBet.ro partnered with Swedish game studio Quickspin—a daughter company of one of the world’s largest gaming software companies, Playtech to—provide players with state-of-the-art video slots. Founded in 2016, NetBet offers sports betting, casino games, and live casino online.
– Concerning Bitcoin gambling, the Romanian authorities show little to no interest in the use and exchange of virtual currencies. Despite the negligence; however, there are eight Bitcoin ATMs in the country according to CoinATMRadar: five in Bucharest, two in Cluj Napoca, and one in Alexandria. On the other hand, Bitcoin Romania, which is the largest Bitcoin ATM chain in Romania and supports Bitcoin and Ethereum, has over 30 ATMs as shown on the official website. Apart from ATMs, there are a handful of local cryptocurrency exchanges (such as BTCxChange) and several international exchanges that accept Romanians using Euro (such as Coinbase, CEX.io, and LocalBitcoins). Hence, cryptocurrencies are accessible but there are no laws that define it to be legal or illegal. Since players are prosecuted for gambling on offshore websites, players can only gamble online using Bitcoin with care.
– If caught accessing an unlicensed or blocked gambling website, players can be prosecuted and instructed to pay a corresponding fine.
– Popular online bookmaker William Hill left the Romania gambling market in June 2015 due to the regulatory evolutions introduced by the authorities at the time.
– With the aim of bringing the spirit of Las Vegas to Bucharest, Grand Casino Bucharest at JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel opened in September 2001 and has been one of Romania’s finest casinos ever since. The casino opens 24/7, so players can relish exclusive casino games anytime.
– In Romania, problem gambling is a hot-button issue that is being tackled with diverse strategies. For one, every gambling website licensed in the country is mandated to set up a notification, which would pop up if someone visits the website twice or more in 12 hours. The notification explains the risks of gambling and educates the viewer on gambling addiction.
– Romania is one of the few European countries where the advertising of gambling and gambling-related content is permitted with lax rules. However, the issue of tighter gambling advertising rules began in May 2016. This was when the National Liberal Party suggested a ban on gambling advertising. As of May 2018, the only awaiting approval is by the Senate.
– As of 2015, there were only three licensed online gambling operators in Romania: NetBet, Winmasters, and Stanley Bet. However, they operated with temporary licences and eventually received a full 10-year online gambling licence on June 30, 2016. These individual licences—along with B2B licences (April 11, 2016)—were the first of their kinds in Romania. By April 2018, there had been 22 online gambling and 306 B2B licences successfully issued. Some of the noteworthy licensees are NYX Gaming and GVC Holdings, which received their respective online gambling licences in June and September 2016.
– Combining more than 160 data points, the National Gambling Office reported a gross revenue of €76.5 million in 2016 generated from both online and land-based gambling operations. In 2017, the revenue increased to €140.9 million. This is quite ironic because a no smoking ban came into effect in March 2016 due to the fact that roughly 25% of Romanian adults were avid smokers. As such, Romanian casinos feared the ban would result to a revenue decline, considering it was widely supported by more than 75% of the then-19.5 million population.
– In April 2018, the EU announced its plan to update the requirements for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This prompted the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs to introduce an amendment to the existing data protection laws. The existing laws have been in use since September 5, 2017, which is made up of Law no. 677 of 2002 and Law no. 102 of 2005. Based on the Ministry’s published document, the draft law would update the Law no. 677 of 2002 and annul Law no. 102 of 2005.
– In February 2018, Blueprint Gaming Ltd.—a dominant game studio from the United Kingdom—received a game certification in Romania. The studio has produced tons of slot games, which are available in hundreds of thousands of gaming terminals throughout Europe and also on the Internet. According to the iGaming Tracker of Q1 2018, five slot games by Blueprint Gaming were among the top 20 … interestingly, the second-charting studio had only three slot games.
– The most recent PokerStars Festival Bucharest (Megastack, the Bucharest Cup, the High Roller, and the Main Event) was held in Grand Casino Bucharest at JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel with €1,100 buy-ins and a prize pool of €706,560. Running from July 31 to August 6, 2017, British player Sam Grafton came first with €117,707 while Turkish player Anil Ozdemir followed with €96,993 out of 736 international participants. Patrick Bueno was the top-rated native, who won €34,400 as the fourth-place player.
– In January 2017, multinational gaming company Playtech—after receiving several B2B licences—launched the very first live casino studio in Bucharest, to offer gambling operators varieties of casino hold’em, blackjack, and roulette. This was four months after competitor Evolution Gaming announced its interest in the Romanian live casino market.
– One of the largest poker tournaments in Romania is the Romanian Poker Championship. Several professionals from all over Europe participate annually in Platinum Casino Bucharest at Hotel Radisson Blu.
– Based on data obtained from Statistica.com, 14.19 million individuals in Romania have access to the Internet as of 2016. Considering the 2016 population was 19.71 million, the figure is about 72% of the population. This stimulates the penetration rate of online gambling in the country.
– In 2012, some of the largest casinos in Romania shut down: Palace Casino Bucharest (April), Casino Mirage (early-2012), and Casino Phoenicia (late-2012).
– Casinos in Romania are not flourished with a competitive number of gaming machines and tables because each machine and table adds to the licencing fee.
– There are more than 150 gambling websites accessible—might not be licensed—in Romania. However, they are mostly in English and support Euro, instead of Romanian and Leu respectively.
– Other game studios, gaming system developers, and/or gambling companies that are live in Romania include Authentic Gaming, SBTech, Casino Technology, Get’s Bets, Ezugi, and ORYX Gaming.
– Since 2014, the Romanian gambling industry has been celebrating the end of each year with the Romanian Gaming Celebration event. Guests range from entrepreneurs, investors, and lawmakers to players, industry experts, and gambling enthusiasts. Accompanied by music, dance, and anything entertainment, the event also awards gambling operators, facilities, manufacturers, suppliers, games, jackpots, social responsibility, law firms, and many more.
– On January 31, 2018, a draft of the Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prevention and Control Bill was released by the National Office for Prevention and Control of Money Laundering. As of March, the remaining requirements for the Council of Europe to review the bill was the submission of a recent gambling risk assessment and the implementation of know-your-customer (KYC) measures. The bill is still in progress as of May.
– In Romania, there is an association called the Romanian Bookmakers Association, which has always been in debates with the Romanian authorities over amendments to the gambling laws and market of the country. RBA claims there are many flaws and challenges in the gambling industry.
– A 25% tax on winnings above 600 RON were proposed recently. Emphasising that the profits of operators are always higher than those of customers, it was shortly rejected.