Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Moldova
The gambling sector in the Republic of Moldova began its development in 1918 when the first clubs, which organized card games, were opened in big cities. During the days of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic until the country declared its independence in 1991, gambling was prohibited. In 1998, the government took an initiative to develop the gambling industry in Moldova. The government passed the Law on Gambling and Licensing of Gambling Businesses that outlined the legal principles of organizing and running gambling establishments. Gambling has been developing quite rapidly. Games of chance (casinos, slot machines, lotteries, betting and bookmaking offices) and games of skill are allowed in Moldova. Gambling is regulated by the government of the country. There are casinos operating mostly in the capital, Chisinau.
In 2011, gaming legislation stipulated that the managing and development of gambling activities, except for land-based licensed casinos, was a state monopoly to be carried out through the National Lottery of Moldova (NLM). In 2018, Moldova implemented a public-private partnership project with two EU companies. The first contract (relating to gaming tables and slot machines) was won by Novo Gaming M Technologies GmbH. The second one (regarding the lottery and sports betting) went to NGM SPC Ltd. Both companies are part of National Lottery AD, a licensed gambling operator from Bulgaria.
Gambling and lotteries in Moldova have been under a public-private partnership since 2019. The government of Moldova views gambling as a means to increase revenue to improve important fields like education, healthcare, sports, culture, and infrastructure. 75% of the revenue generated in the lottery sector returns to the NLM. For sports bets, the NLM receives 90% of the revenues. The share of gross gaming revenue from slot machines that comes back to the NLM is 51%.
The minimum gambling age in Moldova is 18 and 21 for different forms of gambling. People between 18 and 21 have a restricted access to gambling; they can only participate in lotteries and bets. Age verification checks are required before gaining entrance to a casino. If gambling operators are caught involved in underage gambling, they face government penalties.
Laws and Regulators
Law No. 291 on the organization and conduct of games of chance (Lege No. 291 cu privire la organizarea și desfașurarea jocurilor de noroc) 2016 regulates gambling in Moldova. It was amended later starting from July 2017. Several regulations were issued by the Moldovan government on the basis of the Law. The Law allows the state government to establish a monopoly on all forms of gambling excluding casinos. The gambling monopoly was legally assigned to the NLM. Under this law, the forms of gambling regulated in the country include casino games, table games, bingo, lotto, betting, and all forms of online gambling.
The body responsible for the regulation of the gambling activities in the country is the Ministry of Finance (http://mf.gov.md/ro). The Ministry of Finance oversees the gambling industry, enforces the gambling laws and other associated legislation, audits gambling facilities and equipment. The Ministry of Finance deals with licensing and taxation of gambling establishments and determines their location. All gambling establishments in Moldova are located far from educational institutions, religious and medical buildings, and from any public places.
Land Based Casinos
Casino gambling is legal in Moldova. There are several casinos operating in the country, most of them are in Chisinau. Under the existing legislation, a casino must be located in a permanent stand-alone structure with direct street access. Only four-star hotels can host a casino on their premises. Casinos in rural areas must have a minimum of ten real-money slot machines and four gaming tables with at least one of them dedicated to roulette. Urban casinos need at least 20 slots as well as six gaming tables with the same roulette requirement. Every Moldovan casino must feature at least one cash point and a digital video surveillance system that stores recordings for a minimum of ten days.
The casinos in Moldova offer popular casino games such as roulette, blackjack, poker, and various slot machines. Moldovan casinos offer a rather limited amount of gaming tables and slot machines as they are not so big as their European counterparts. Finding the exact number of gaming tables and slot machines in each casino is impossible due to lack of information on the Internet. Nonetheless, the casinos deliver a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Moldovan casinos provide some information about their VIP programs, bonuses, and special offers on their websites. Moldovans use MDL. EUR and USD are also widely accepted.
Online gambling is not regulated in Moldova. Even though the laws declared online gambling legal in 2017, they did not create any legal framework to regulate it. The NLM is the only online gambling operator that has a license to operate in the country. There is no other regulation or licensing. There are no laws that keep people from playing with foreign operators either. As there are no domestic online casinos, lotteries, bookmakers, bingo or poker websites, players gamble online on unlicensed websites without being penalized.