The executive director of Romanian Bookmakers, Doru Gheorghiu, signals an alarming reality: the online gambling platforms continue to address Romanian customers and to advertise as if nothing happened on the legislation level.

Doru Gheorghiu, the new executive of the most representative patronal organization of traditional sport betting operators considers that technically blocking the online platforms destined to gambling will soon turn into an absolute necessity. Already undertaken by the National Gambling Office (ONJN), this procedure is anticipated by Doru Gheorgiu as the only way to inforce the observation of the new legislative regulations concerning the licensing and authorization of online operators at the end of the 90 days of grace given to the online unlicensed operators.

How do the Romanian Bookmakers members appreciate the new gambling law?
Without a doubt, the big step forward is that the state authority, the National Gambling Office, now has the legal instruments it needed to stop the illegal online gambling operating which addressed the Romanians. The benefits of the new regulation about the licensing and authorizing the online operations will be many. First of all, the state will benefit from supplementary budget contributions. Then, from our point of view, sports betting that is, the market is rebalanced on realistically competitive basis, in the sense that the manifestation of the online competition to the traditional betting game is now regulated more effectively.

Don’t you anticipate a drastic decrease in the number of the online betting platforms?
There will obviously be a reduction of the number of operators addressing the players in Romania online, but it will be a fortunate reduction. Only those operators will remain, who are willing to abide the Romanian state legislation and, therefore, willing to undertake the taxes, or, should it be the case, the terms of the amnesty imposed by the Romanian state for the period they operated illegally, after 2010 and until now. Also, only those operators will remain on the market who are going to really undertake the players’ protection measures. However, in order to achieve this maturing of the market I believe it is compulsory to undergo the stage of blocking the platforms which will still be outside the law in September, when the grace period given by law expires. This will be the measure by which the National Gambling Office will actually determine complying with the law.

Do you think there will still be online operators who defy the law?
We are monitoring the evolution of the online gambling market following the issue of the new law and, unfortunately, our first conclusion is that the new legislative frame only has a partial effect so far. If some of the online games operators stopped addressing the Romanian players illegally, others carried on with their activity. The latter still continue to advertise online as if nothing happened. Therefore, it is only logical to expect that part of them will defy law and continue to operate in Romania even after the 90 days grace period, which expires on September 10. Thus, we anticipate that blocking them will be and must become a top priority for the National Gambling Office. This will be the only constraint which will have the effect of complying with the law! We are confident that President Odeta Nestor, together with her team, has the same point of view on this situation and that she will effectively and rapidly achieve this important step in regulating the market.

How many of the Romanian Bookmakers members will also develop online operations?
One operator of our organization members received the license for online activities and is already operating sports betting. I won’t name it, in order to keep an equidistant position from all our members. This information is public anyway. Concerning the other Romanian Bookmakers members, entering the online activity is, obviously, a company decision. Therefore, I can only express my personal opinion that most of the traditional betting operators will soon operate on the online market as well. This is the logical development, but we have to keep in mind that such a development is not at all a simple process.

What will the implementation norms bring new?
We think that the norms will ensure the effective implementation of the new law to a good extent. Both us and other organizations or persons representing the industry, we all collaborated very effectively with the National Gambling Office in creating them. The openness to dialogue, but, at the same time, the trenchant manner in which the Office understands to address the problems of the industry will shortly bring the establishment of a more and more balanced and solid business environment for the gambling market, as well as a controlled opening of the market. This opening, however, must be done with the achievement of the objectives assumed by the new legislation. Gamblers protection, underage players’ protection or stopping of illegal operations, for instance. We all must undertake these objectives, including the people in the industry, not only the National Gambling Office.

Name an action priority for Romanian Bookmakers at this point…
I believe that this priority was already made clear from our discussion so far and it is a more than legitimate one: providing a between the traditional and online operated games. We are entitled to claim a fair competitive environment, because it is claimed, first of all, by the law. We are convinced that the future actions of the National Gambling Office will determine this equity in the end. Also, as the executive director of the most representative patronal employers’ organization in the sector of sport betting I am aware that the support we must give to the National Gambling Office is very important for reaching the objectives I mentioned earlier. From this point of view, I undertake it as a priority mission to be a true and permanent working partner for the National Gambling Office team.

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