The gambling business of the Republic of Moldova is completely legal and actively developing. The gambling industry began to develop especially quickly after the ban on it in neighboring countries – Russia and Ukraine.
Both offline and online establishments are allowed on the territory of Moldova. Since 2011, all gambling establishments have been monopolized, with the exception of licensed land-based casinos. The entire gambling sector is controlled by the joint stock company Loteria Nationala a Moldovei. It is this body that determines the location of the casino, as well as deals with licensing and taxation issues.
Among the most popular casinos in Moldova are Napoleon Palace, Europa and XO. All of them are located in the capital – Chisinau. Also, there are 350 gaming clubs with 3.9 thousand slot machines at the disposal of Moldovan players. According to the Licensing Chamber, the leaders in the number of gambling halls are two companies: Magic-Land SRL (TM Vulcan) and Reneco-EL (TM Imperia). In addition, there are nine bookmaker’s offices and one lottery operator – JV “LOTERIA MOLDOVEI” SA, registered in Moldova.
Peculiarities of gambling business regulation in Moldova
The gambling business in the Republic of Moldova began its development in 1918. Then the first clubs were opened in big cities in which they played exclusively card games. After the collapse of the USSR, the authorities decided to develop the gambling industry. However, active measures by the state were taken only in 1998 – the Law on Gambling and Licensing of the Gambling Business was issued. Then in 1999 the state issued the “Law on Gambling”, which defines the legal principles for their organization and conduct. This law is still valid today.
Almost all types of gambling are allowed on the territory of the state:
- games of chance – casinos, slot machines, lotteries;
- betting – sweepstakes, bookmakers;
- games of skill.
Legislation regulating the gambling activity of Moldova
Since 2011, the entire gambling business in Moldova, except for land-based casinos, is a state monopoly. The rules for its conduct are established by the following regulatory legal acts:
- “Law on Gambling” from 18.02.1999;
- “Law on the regulation of entrepreneurial activity through licensing” dated 30.07.2001;
- “Law on the organization and conduct of gambling” dated 16.01.2016;
- Tax Code of 04.24.1997;
- Decision of the interdepartmental commission on cash registers dated 05/29/2008.
According to the legislation of the republic, it is forbidden to participate in gambling (with the exception of lotteries and games of skill) for persons under 21 years of age, as well as for persons under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances that have a strong effect. The organizer of a gambling entertainment is prohibited from participating in games conducted by him / herself.
Any advertising of gambling establishments and the services they offer is prohibited in Moldova. Also, according to the law, all gambling establishments should be located away from educational institutions, religious and medical institutions, as well as away from public places.
The regulatory body of the gambling business in Moldova is the joint-stock company Loteria Nationala a Moldovei. This statutory fund is subordinate to the Ministry of Finance. He deals with licensing and taxation of gambling establishments, and also determines their location.
Conditions for obtaining a license
The following activities in the field of gambling are subject to licensing in Moldova:
- organization and holding of lotteries (except for those for which the state has monopoly rights);
- maintenance of a land-based casino;
- use of slot machines with cash prizes;
- accepting bets on sports competitions.
According to the legislation, the organizer of gambling can be a legal entity registered in the Republic of Moldova and holding a corresponding license. The number of foreign shareholders should not exceed 49% of the authorized capital.
Licenses are issued by the Licensing Chamber, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Economy. The license is valid for one year. After that, it should be updated. Conditions for issuing a license to a legal entity carrying out any type of activity in the gambling industry:
- organizational and legal form – joint stock company or limited liability company;
- such accompanying activities as catering, trade in alcohol and tobacco products, etc., are carried out only at the place of the main activity;
- among shareholders, board members, shareholders, as well as employees whose official duties include conducting or exercising control over gambling, there are no persons previously convicted of a deliberate crime. Also, among them there should not be members of a company that once organized its activities without an appropriate license.
In this case, the size of the contributed assets at the time of filing a declaration for obtaining a license is:
- casino – 600,000 MDL (30,700 USD);
- national lottery – 250,000 MDL (12,800 USD);
- bets, slot machine halls – 200,000 MDL (10,300 USD);
- regional lotteries – 150,000 MDL (7,700 USD);
- skill games – 50,000 MDL (2,560 USD);
- slot machines – 25,000 MDL (1,280 USD).
The license is issued within three days from the date of receipt of the document confirming the payment of the fee. The fee for issuing a license depends on the specific type of activity in the field of gambling:
- using slot machines – 14,000 MDL (715 USD) per unit;
- operation of slot machines such as American roulette – 80,000 MDL (4,090 USD) per unit;
- organization of bets during competitions (sports or others) – 28% of the total amount of accepted bets;
- organization and holding of instant lotteries – 28% of the total cost of lottery tickets announced for sale;
- organization and conduct of digital lotteries – 28% of the total cost of sold lottery tickets;
- the maintenance of a land-based casino with no more than 6 tables – 180,000 MDL (9,200 USD) per table. For each table starting from the seventh – 360,000 MDL (18,400 USD).
Licensed varieties of gambling
Popular casinos of the Republic of Moldova Napoleon Palace, Europa and XO offer:
- 50 classic slot machines;
- 17 tables for table games such as Roulette, Blackjack, Texas, Russian and Caribbean poker.
Also, the players are offered 350 gaming clubs with 3.9 thousand slot machines. According to the Licensing Chamber, only two companies have the largest number of halls: Magic-Land SRL (Vulcan trademark) and Reneco-EL (Imperia trademark). According to the statistics of the regulatory authorities, in total players spend about MDL 1,000,000 (USD 50,800) per day. Bookmakers are also very popular. They receive about 350 million MDL (almost 17.8 million USD) in net profit annually.
According to the legislation of Moldova, operators of gambling establishments are obliged to provide their users with a financial guarantee. The type and amount of the financial guarantee is determined by the Ministry of Finance. Among the main forms of guaranteeing the protection of the financial interests of players are:
- conclusion of an agreement with an insurance company;
- providing a bank guarantee;
- depositing the appropriate amount into a bank account designated by the Ministry of Finance. Upon the expiration of the license, this amount is returned with interest;
- pledge of real estate owned by the organizer.
Control mechanisms for operators of gambling establishments
The conduct of gambling by operators is controlled by the Ministry of Finance and the Licensing Chamber. The Tax Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs monitor the legality of the activities of establishments offering gambling entertainment.
The total amount of income tax for legal entities registered in the Republic of Moldova is 12%. Players who receive winnings are also taxed at:
- 18% – from gambling (except for awards from advertising companies or lotteries);
- 18% – from advertising companies or lotteries, if the amount of winnings exceeds 10% of the personal exemption, but does not exceed 50,000 MDL (2,560 USD);
- 25% – from advertising campaigns or lotteries, if the amount of winnings is equal to or exceeds 50,000 MDL (2,560 USD).
Online gambling in Moldova
Online gambling is allowed in Moldova. While on the territory of the state, you can freely visit the site of any online casino and withdraw your winnings through the proposed payment systems. Only persons over the age of 21 are eligible to play in online casinos.
Online gambling is a state monopoly and is not subject to licensing. Controls the activities of all online casinos in the country, JSC Loteria Nationala a Moldovei.
Basically, citizens of Moldova play on foreign resources.
Popular slot machines in Moldova
As in many other European countries, the products of the Greentube company are popular in Moldova. Slots such as Book of Ra, Super Hot, Sizzling Hot and Lucky Ladys Charm tend to be at the top of popular online casinos. Also among the inhabitants of the country card games are very popular: poker and blackjack.
Moldovan gambling software developers
Computer games and gaming applications for mobile devices are being developed in Moldova. One of the popular gambling software companies is the DQ Team. Among their works are games that have received worldwide fame:
- Delta Quadrant: Empires;
- Delta Quadrant: Horisont;
- 7 Gates: Path to Zamolxes;
- Jeweler: The Cursed Treasure;
- War in a box: Paper Tanks.
Spooky House Studios is also worth noting. This Moldovan company develops games for Android and IOS.
Prospects for the development of the gambling business in Moldova
The gambling industry in Moldova is developing dynamically, as evidenced by the increase in tax payments to the state treasury from companies offering gambling entertainment in the country. The state is focused on transforming the gambling industry. Thus, in Balti, the municipality seeks to move all gambling establishments outside the city. And in Orhei and Comrat, the authorities decided to suspend the issuance of licenses to new market participants.
A new impetus in the development of the country in the field of gambling has become junket tourism, which is designed to increase the target audience to foreign guests. Since gambling is prohibited or severely restricted in the neighboring countries of Ukraine, Russia, Israel and Turkey, this is a rather promising idea.
In general, the gambling business of the Republic of Moldova has its pluses and minuses. Some restrictions do not prevent the active development of this area. Gradually it is approaching European standards. Due to the monopolization of gambling establishments, the authorities have significantly increased contributions to the country’s budget.