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Online Gambling News from Romania and Ireland

By: Fabian Rictor, Friday September 23rd 2011
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There are two news items on online gambling that will have a negative impact. One deals with law and the other with taxation.

In Romania, the government has announced a new anti online gambling regulation that will lead to the censorship of the Internet. Under this law the regulatory body nominated to control online gambling in Romania will have the power to identify and blacklist web sites that are allegedly providing unauthorized gambling activities to the citizens. The blacklisted web sites will also include those that provide links as a marketing, advertising or promotional activity to unauthorized gambling. The regulatory body will send the blacklists to the Ministry of Communication, which will issue blocking orders to Romanian Internet Service Providers, who will have to take the required action within 12 hours on pain of heavy fines. The even more controversial aspect of this regulation is that it does not require the Internet Service Providers to inform targeted websites that they have been, or are about to be, blocked. There is no provision for judicial oversight. The regulation was promulgated at the end of August 2011. However, legal experts point out that under current Romanian legislation, there is no specific obligation for Internet Service Providers to comply with such regulation.

That Ireland has been contemplating taxation of online gambling has been in the news for some time. This week the minister for justice, Alan Shatter, announced that new gambling laws scheduled for publication early 2012 will bring online operators into the tax net. This move has been initiated taking into account the growing numbers of online gambling players. Explaining the reasons for the new gambling laws, Shatter said that because of the absence of regulation of online gambling, young people and vulnerable persons are being exposed to unacceptable risks. He added, "The Exchequer is also being short-changed because of the absence of a taxation regime for online and other forms of remote gambling." Shatter did not reveal any details on the new tax. The speculation within the online gambling industry is that the proposals will empower the government to include a levy to support treatment facilities for problem gamblers. This provision would only be activated if funds established by the online gambling operators themselves for such facilities were insufficient.

Ireland's largest and extremely profitable online gambling operator, Paddy Power, has based its online operations in the Isle of Man jurisdiction, where a moderate tax regime prevails. A spokesman for the company said it was happy to pay additional taxes as long as they were applied fairly. "It's the policing of the legislation that is the most important thing. Irish and international players need to be taxed equally," he said.

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