In an order dated Oct. 13, Romania’s Oficiul National Pentru Jocuri de Noroc (ONJN) gambling regulator announced it was canceling the operating rights of Bet365 subsidiaries Hillside Sports and Hillside Gaming. Players have been given 30 days in which to withdraw funds from their Bet365 accounts. The news follows the ONJN’s decision this week to add Bwin.party digital entertainment domains to Romania’s ever expanding blacklist of unauthorized operators.
A year ago, Bet365 reported it would stop accepting new customers from Romania while it reviewed its options. All operators seeking new Romanian licenses had been told to pay back taxes on their Romanian income from 2009 and reports are that Bet365 dutifully anted up €30m, nearly four times the sum that Bwin.party reported paying.
According to Romanian media, ONJN said Bet365 continued to operate in the country after Sept. 10, 2015, which marked the end of the grace period for operators to fulfill their obligations to the state budget. Newly licensed operators were apparently told they had to wait until Oct. 10 to restart their Romanian-facing business.
A Bet365 spokesman told eGaming Review that the company was “extremely disappointed” by the ONJN’s action because the company believed it has “at all times acted in compliance with all relevant Romanian and European legal and regulatory requirements.” Bet365 didn’t rule out the possibility of challenging the ONJN’s move.
In announcing Bet365’s punishment, ONJN warned that players who fail to sever ties with the site could be liable for fines of between 5k-10k lei (US $1,300 – $2,600). The ONJN has stated that around 40k Romanians continue to wager with unauthorized online sites following the introduction of the new regulatory regime.