Betting in Romania

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 opened Romania to the cultures and lifestyles of the West, including access to sports and other activities that were highly restricted under communist rule. By 2003, the Romanian government decided to permit foreign investment in sports betting activities in the country, with a view to creating a new stream of tax revenue.

Seizing upon this opportunity, the Liverpool-based Stanley Leisure gaming group quickly formed a joint venture to develop a betting business in Romania. Under the auspices of a group affiliate called Stanley Fairbet, roughly £650,000 (US$1.1 million) was invested in the venture, as a second company, Invicta, putting up a similar amount. By the end of 2004, some 50 sports betting shops had been set up in the country.

Football, of course, is the most popular sport in the country for both spectators and bettors. Other sports with a significant fan base range from team handball and basketball to rugby union and tennis. Gymnastics also has a broad appeal, especially in years when the country is being represented in the Summer Olympic Games, where Romania ranks 15th among all nations in medal production, including two dozen Golds in gymnastics alone.

Nearly two decades of political and economic reforms reached their crescendo here when Romania joined the European Union (EU) on January 1, 2007. It is now the ninth largest geographic territory in the EU. What’s more, with a population close to 22 million, it ranks seventh largest among all EU member states—a huge market, indeed.

Today, more than 20 sports betting companies are licensed to offer services to Romanian race and sports enthusiasts. They are dominated by Leisure & Gaming PLC and Betshop, who have joined Stanleybet in opening hundreds of betting shops across the country.

Additionally, 21 licensed casinos can be found in and around the capital of Bucharest. Another eight are spread throughout the country, notably in Constanta, Galati, Pitesti, Ploiesti, Sinaia and Timisoara.

Sports betting at licensed shops is absolutely legal in Romania. Indeed, it ranks among the most popular forms of gambling here. On the other hand, online sports betting falls in a grey area of the law—neither legal nor illegal—because there are no specific regulations that cover making bets on the Internet. As result, no licenses can be issued, so companies that offer online wagering to Romanians are all based outside the country’s borders.

According to research conducted by CasinoCity, no fewer than 347 English-language sportsbooks currently welcome wagering from Romania. There are also 678 online casinos and 504 virtual poker rooms that will accept accounts set up from Romania addresses.

Additionally, 124 gaming web sites now have language support available in Romanian, including 30 separate race and sports books. Listed among them are such familiar names as Ladbrokes, Unibet, Bet365, Party Bets, Bodog and Victor Chandler, to name just a few.

Wagering Euros is the norm for Romanian bettors online, but there are four web sites now offering betting in the local currency—the Romanian Leu. Two are specialised in sports betting—Unibet and Gamebookers—while the other two are focused on bingo—Maria Bingo and Unibet Bingo. All of them have local language support services, too.

Those wishing to use Romanian Leu for deposits and withdrawals via eWallet for sports betting can take advantage of 116 sites affiliated with Moneybookers or 101 with NETeller. Visa credit cards can be used at 121 online venues, complemented by 71 sites accepting Visa Electron and another 39 taking Visa debit cards. By comparison, MasterCard can be used at 118 locations.