Online gambling operator Bet365 is advising its Romanian players not to pay fines it says the government has no right to collect.
Earlier this month, Romania’s National Gambling Office (ONJN) placed Bet365 on its online gambling blacklist. The move puzzled most observers, given that Bet365 stopped accepting new Romanian customers a year ago and is believed to have paid around €30m in back taxes to quality for a new Romanian online gambling license.
Romanian media reported that ONJN had ordered provisional license recipients to cease all Romanian market activity for one month starting Sept. 10 and that Bet365 may have flouted this edict. Bet365 responded by saying it believes it has at all times complied with all legal and regulatory obligations and didn’t rule out the process of challenging ONJN’s decision.
ONJN also warned Bet365’s Romanian players that they could face fines of up to $2,600 if they didn’t stop accessing unauthorized gambling sites. Some of Bet365’s Romanian customers have since received emails ‘inviting’ them to ONJN headquarters to “clarify some issues” regarding their use of the site.
According to Pariurix.com, players who have accepted this ‘invitation’ have been quizzed regarding online bets made between Sept. 10 and 30. Some reports say ONJN intends to fine all players who wagered during this period, while other reports say ONJN is focusing only on bettors who wagered higher than average amounts.
A Romanian player contacted CalvinAyre.com to share an email he’d received from Bet365. The operator said it was “extremely disappointed” to learn that ONJN was fining some of Bet365’s customers but the operator was “challenging [ONJN’s} decision in the courts” and had some suggestions for players who felt they were getting a raw deal.
Bet365 noted that Romanian law gave players 15 days following a request to pay a fine in which to file an appeal. Filing an appeal means the player doesn’t have to pay the fine immediately, “and may never have to pay the fine if you are successful in court. Given we have always acted in accordance with Romanian law we consider you have justification to challenge any fine and for it to be overturned.”
Bet365 offered its players two numbers to call for information on how to proceed. Bet365 said it would provide players with details of “local advisors that can assist you in your meeting with the ONJN and we will pay for the cost of that meeting.” Bet365 closed its email by saying it would help its Romanian customers prove “that you, along with us, have not acted contrary to the law.”