According to local media reports on Thursday, the Bucharest Court of Appeal denied Bet365’s request for a temporary suspension of the Romanian National Gambling Office’s (ONJN) October decision to revoke the company’s operating license. Bet365 is expected to appeal the ruling.
The ONJN placed Bet365 on its online gambling blacklist in October despite Bet365 having paid around €30m in back taxes to meet the requirements for eligibility for a new Romanian license. The ONJN also began issuing fines against Bet365’s Romanian customers for continuing to play with the site, which Bet365 told players the government had no right to collect.
When Bet365 was first added to the blacklist, Romanian media reported that the company had failed to abide by an ONJN order that all license applicants suspend their operations in the country between September 11 and October 10 of last year. In response, Bet365 claimed to have “at all times acted in compliance” with all relevant requirements.
Thursday’s court ruling has no impact on Bet365’s legal challenge of ONJN’s “disgraceful actions,” which the company called “legally unjustified” and believed were conducted in “a non-transparent way.”
In December, Bet365 filed a criminal complaint accusing some ONJN decision-makers of “discriminatory and corrupt practices,” after local media alleged that the decision to revoke Bet365’s license may have been made at the behest of the firm’s local competitors.
Bet365 claimed to hold “at least” a 50% share of Romania’s online sports betting market at the time its license was revoked. The company claims that “certain local operators” have since exploited Bet365’s forced absence.
The ONJN has to date issued 18 licenses under its new online gambling regime, with lucky recipients including 888 Holdings, Amaya Gaming, Betfair, Fortuna, Sportingbet, Stanleybet and Unibet. Also making the cut was Dollarobet, which is based in Romania and was linked on Wednesday to an illegal Italian betting ring with alleged mafia ties.