Romania is a beautiful Eastern European country known for its natural thermal spas, Medieval towns, stunning villages and sprawling forests. The major cities also have similar entertainment to what you would expect elsewhere in Europe, from Michelin starred restaurants to huge casinos and poker rooms.
The real money gaming scene in Romania is actually going strong, despite a rocky period when all forms of gambling were banned. Now, there are around 20 casinos in the country, many of them concentrated in the capital of Bucharest. Let’s take a look at poker and casino gaming in Romania, how it’s changed over time, and what it’s like now.
History and Legality
Gambling was very popular in Romania in the early 20th century. The first recorded form of gambling was the Loteria Romania, used to help generate funds for the state. In 1910, the Casino Constanta, widely thought to be the country’s first casino, opened its doors with the aim of attracting foreign and local wealth.
In 1945, all forms of gambling were banned and this continued until 1989, when Romania once again came under the rule of a democratic government. The history of real money gaming in Romania is reflective of the country’s history. From 1990, all forms of physical gambling activity were once again allowed, including casinos, sports betting and poker.
The first casino of this new era was the Casino Bucharest at the Hotel InterContinental, opened in 1991 and still open to this day.
The National Gambling Office (NGO) came into being in 2013, and has since served as the regulatory body for both physical and online real money gaming. They have stringent rules for operators who want to obtain licenses. These rules have been criticised at times and their development is still an ongoing process.
From the player’s perspective, nearly all forms of gambling are now allowed in Romania, as long as the player sticks to regulated casinos, poker rooms and online sites.
Where to Find Casinos and Play Poker
Given that physical gaming activity is allowed in Romania, it’s possible to find a number of establishments throughout the country though, as mentioned, many of them can be found in Bucharest.
Licensed poker clubs can also be found in Romania. They have slightly different rules than casinos, and a different atmosphere for the player. Popular choices include the All-In Poker Club in Bucharest and Poker Room, also in the nation’s capital. The latter has 15 tables and 140 seats. Elsewhere, there’s the Seven Inn Poker Club in Brasov.
Poker festivals are also regulated in Romania, allowing temporary poker games to be held in a tournament style. It’s important for players to understand the difference between poker tournaments and cash games, as these events stick to the tournament format. Land-based casinos can also organise poker festivals by following the same rules. As such, Romania has played host to a number of major poker events, including the Romanian Poker Championship.
For players looking for other games, such as slots, blackjack and roulette, head to the casinos. As mentioned earlier, there are around 20 in the country, 9 of which can be found in Bucharest. The largest in the city is the JW Marriott, with 14 table games and 159 machines. The Platinum Casino at Hotel Radisson Blu is also a major attraction. Elsewhere, the Minerva Hotel and Casino in Craiova is quite popular.
Casinos in Romania have a compulsory 50 Lei entrance fee as a government rule, but will often reimburse this with a 50 Lei betting chip. Many of the major casinos are part of hotel resorts and will have accommodation, restaurants and entertainment.
Online Gaming in Romania
So far, this article has not fully covered the situation with online real money gaming in Romania. Like many other countries, Romania was slow to adopt online gaming when it first came about, but online gambling was made legal in 2010.
The legal process is similar to land-based casinos in that sites have to gain approval and become licensed with the NGO. When online gaming was first introduced, there was no such governing body and so many sites operated anyway. Now, sites need a license and must pay what often amounts to large sums of tax.
For the player, online casino and poker games are available through such licensed sites. Online poker is included in the same category as online casinos, and so licensed online casino operators can also run poker games. Online slots also fall into this same category, though bingo and keno are handled separately.
All kinds of online gaming can be found, so long as the sites are approved and the site and player are following the rules.
Future of iGaming in Romania
Romania has made a lot of progress since gambling was reformed and made legal in the 1990s. Both the online and physical casino and poker scene are booming, with multiple major casinos in the capital and a few in other cities throughout Romania.
The addition of poker rooms and poker festivals, online casinos, as well as a popular sports betting market that spans through multiple disciplines, means that the industry is doing well. Romania has now climbed to 47th in the global gaming revenue rankings.
The introduction of the National Gambling Office in 2013 was a step in the right direction when it comes to regulation of both land-based and online gaming, but in reality the licensing and governing of the industry is still developing. It is likely to come more into adherence with EU guidelines in coming years. Changes could bring more benefits to player and industry.
However, even at this early stage, gambling in Romania is fully legalised and regulated. Players can access all types of real money gaming, at casinos and poker rooms as well as online casinos, sports betting, lotteries and more.