On February 14, the Romania National Gambling Authority (NOG) published its new Ethical Code of Responsible Communication in Gambling on the regulator’s website. The Code is designed to ensure that operators maintain a responsible level of commercial communication within the gaming sector in Romania, which relate specifically to the protection of minors and vulnerable people as relates to the exposure to messages that promote gambling.
Article 3.3 of the Ethics Code states that Communication made through media that does not belong to gambling organisers, regardless of the channel used, will be made by being placed – through the organizers’ diligence – in the areas, pages, real or virtual, during hourly intervals for which, in the case of that particular communication channel, assurances can be given that at least 90 per cent of the audience is over 18 years of age or that the channel is intended exclusively for this age group.
Article 3.4 – For communication placed in digital media, through the gambling organisers’ diligence, an active system of age verification shall be implemented; this system will appear on the start page of brands’ (operators’/organisers’) websites or their partners (affiliates), regardless of the form of the agreement that forms the basis of their partnership. The content and free advertisements that can be downloaded must have a set of instructions included, for those that use those materials, regarding the fact that they are not allowed to distribute those materials to persons who are under 18 years of age;
Article 4.2.1 – The content of advertisements and marketing materials that promote gambling must be conceived in such a manner as to not attract young people under 18 years of age; for instance, it must not contain elements that portray children, objects, images, impressions, symbols, music, characters – real or fictitious – cartoons, celebrities such as sports champions, that could represent an attraction for persons under the age of 18;
Article 4.2.4 – Communication must not be made through famous persons such as famous models, actors, athletes – by using their presence or image.
The week following the publication of the Code, on February 22, the NOG met with gaming industry representatives to discuss the Code, where it expressed the view that the Code had been published for consultation purposes only, and stated that no sanctions would be imposed for breaches of the Code by operators. However, the NOG did ask that stakeholders should present their proposals for the amendment/improvement of the Code of Ethics. Four days later, the NOG reiterated its intention for the voluntarily adoption of the Code by the gambling operators, while also stating that it needed understand to what extent operators were to adopt and observe rules. The NOG wanted confirmation that the principle of responsible gambling could be observed without it becoming necessary to take coercive action.
On March 6, during an industry conference, the NOG President, emphasised that the advertising guidelines represent a ‘desideratum,’ namely that the Code represents the regulator’s ideal scenario for the advertising of gambling services and products in Romania. He reiterated that no adverse measures would be taken against operators who do not adopt the Code.
While, at this stage, it remains to be seen how things will evolve and what approach the regulator will adopt, the Code in its current form could significantly affect gambling advertising in Romania.