Romanian poker players may be in for an unusual treat, as new amendments in the country will regulate online poker but also lower the rate of taxation poker players and other gamblers will face on their winnings.
As the new changes to the existing regulations will continue to provide local oversight of the online gambling industry while reducing fees and allowing foreign operators to apply for licenses, this could be a case of poker players having their cake and eating it, too.
The biggest change for players will be the new tax rates.
Previously, players pay a flat tax of 25 percent on all winnings from poker and other gambling activities.
Now, gambling winnings will now be subjected to a progressive taxation system, similar to how most nations handle income tax.
Under the new rules, the first â‚¬15,000 ($17,800) in gambling winnings will be taxed at just one percent. All winnings between â‚¬15,000 and â‚¬100,000 ($118,500) will now be taxed at 16 percent, and then further winnings would be taxed at 25 percent.
This will mark a major change for players who win moderate prizes over the course of a year. For instance, a player who made â‚¬50,000 ($59,300) through poker last year would have owed â‚¬12,500 ($14,800) in taxes. Going forward, that same player would pay a combination of the lower tax rates and would owe just â‚¬5,750 ($6,800), an effective rate of 11.5 percent.
The other major change in the new reforms, which came in the form of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009, is the ability for other legal entities in the European Union to obtain online gambling licenses that would allow them to offer poker and other games over the Internet to players in Romania.
This change is likely a result of pressure from the European Commission, which had previously expressed concerns that Romania’s online gambling regime was in violation of European free trade agreements.
In the four years since Romania introduced online gaming legislation, not one license had gone to a foreign operator, perhaps due to high fees on any companies that wanted to join the market.
Under the new regulations, however, the fees applied to new licensees will be significantly reduced, hopefully broadening the options for players in the country.
It’s unclear if any new poker operators will enter into the Romanian market in the near future: Romanian players are already welcomed at PokerStars.eu, for instance, so it’s unclear as to whether Amaya would have to apply for any new licenses to continue operating in the country.
A few other changes are also included in the new laws, though they’re mostly unrelated to online poker. For instance, there is an interesting change designed for the tourism industry that will allow for temporary gambling licenses in areas that are popular among tourists, allowing operators to offer games for a period of three to six months at a time.
According to reports, most of the new regulations are expected to go into effect within 45 days from the start of the year. There is no word as to when or if poker operators within the EU will start applying for licenses in Romania.