Dan Iliovici – ROMSLOT – exclusive interview

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I. Mr. Dan Iliovici, you are an active presence in the gambling world. What was your reason to join this special field?
R. That was something random; I was working in a totally different sector and a happy coincidence helped me come in contact with the association management. Some would call it ‚fate’, others ‚luck’.
I was recommended for this position and I said yes, with no fear that I had little knowledge about it. I loved the people – young, dynamic, who really know what the want.
And I guess that they liked having someone around outside the gambling world, with an objective conception, another source of inspiration.

Is your professional training linked in any way to what you have chosen to do or you are now on a completely opposite job path?
R. For the last 15 years, I have been myself specialising in management, which is exactly what I am doing now within Romslot.
For me, the novelty comes from the direct involvement into an extremely interesting and exciting field. And I mean communication, mediation, negotiation, documentation, analysis and monitoring of the legal framework.

In 2010, you founded the Association of Romslot Slot organizers. What was the incentive?
R. It is true that our Association started at the end of 2010, upon the initiative of 3 slot organizers in Romania. Only a year into its activity, we register 13 members of all calibers, who operate slots in all types of locations – special rooms, bars, betting houses, hotels.
The main goal of this Association is the desire for transparency in the business which the Romslot members belong to, and to facilitate a coherent communication with the authorities, with all operators and mass-media in this sector of gambling. Similarly, the Association aims to promote an ethical behavior in the slot machine games and to advocate for the interest of their members.
We are the representatives of a solid industry, with fair-play business people, in good standing with the fiscal authorities, of an industry that brings significant income to the state budget, of an industry that provides over 30,000 employment places.

On our part, we want to have a consistent, able to be implemented and stable legal environment – this is what the entire business sector in Romania would agree to. This is the only way we can have serious investments, substantial and beneficial in the long run.

What is the object of activity at Romslot?
R: Romslot operates on four levels – for its members, within the industry of specialty, for the authorities and for the players.
For its Romslot members, the Association provides information, analysis, consultancy and the real possibility to interfere with the process of drafting the public policies. Also, Romslot receives a permanent feedback from its members in terms of legal, fiscal and business issues, for the impediments that the slot organizers have to face in the territory – plus, it is searching for ways and means of solving all the above.
Within this industry, Romslot supports the idea of a level playing field, in a competitional environment characterized by fair play and compliance with the current legal norms by all the operators, equally. At the same time, we have an open and constructive dialogue with other similar organizations and associations.
As for the authorities, we have become a transparent partner of dialogue with the Department of Finance and other institutions of a decisional power which we cooperate with, involved in the decision-making process and implementation of the present norms: the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, the Fraud Squad, the County Police Inspectorates, ANAF.
Last but not least, Romslot promotes a responsable behavior of the slot organizers towards the players and helps them build the climate where they feel good, have fun in safe conditions in our rooms.

How many members counts the Association and what is the strategy of attracting new members?
R: Right now, Romslot has thirteen members and we are open to all the slot organizers (small, medium and large), who willingly abide by the Code of Ethics of our Association and the legal stipulations and who are foremost careful to satisfy the players.
The services that we provide are essential for attracting new members – the latest about the national and international market, national and European legal monitoring, analysis, consultancy and the possibility to intervene in drafting the public policies. All these are of an extreme interest for any slot organizer in Romania.
Romslot acts to protect this industry, as a true representative of all members, irrespective of their size, economic strength or presence in the territory.

You meant to develop the slot machine type games, based on a responsible behavior of all people involved: central and local authorities, operators, population, economic agents, non-governmental agencies, mass-media, etc. After two years, where do you stand?
R. A responsible behavior implies transparency in activity, communication and vigilance for a clean and competitional business environment. Likewise, such a behavior translates into a correct and open attitude towards the player who is posing problems.
We support and promote the ‚Play responsibly’ project, which aims to endorse a responsible conduct of the operator towards the slot player, so the player can fully benefit from this activity of pastime and fun – as slots are entertaining and captivating entertainment.
The gaming industry promotes gambling in safe conditions and is trying to entail attention upon the excess that can happen while playing, The information provided to the gaming operators should help the high-risk players look for help and counselling from the specialized organizations and experts in the field.
Moreover, Romslot actively involves itself in the dissemination of information in our industry, being a constant presence at the national and international conferences of this kind.
As in any business, the self-regulation is essential; hence, Romslot has tried to identify the areas where we can improve and make things go more smoothly.

Should you give a brief description of the gambling world in Romania, what would that be?
R. To define the business environment in the gambling sector in Romania, we need to first draw the attention upon the current impediments. There is a real need for transparency, from both authorities and operators. The same for a legal framework to be fully adjusted to the reality and specific features of any game. There are signs that things start going better and this is where Romslot comes in – to contribute, along with our members, to building a legal framework as correct as possible for anyone involved, no matter the size of the business they are running.
Further, the gambling in Romania is perceived in a wrong way, due to lack of correct information. Romslot thus intends to implement a strategy of public communication, well established.
Should I give a description of the gambling in itself, I would say it is a mixture of adrenalin, fun and responsibility. The gambling world needs, though, self-regulation, awareness and a level playing field. Anything else would discriminate the player, the organizers and the state.

In your opinion, what do you think are the major differences between gambling in Romania and in the world?
R. Romania has taken huge steps in the last years in terms of slot machine type gaming, and the market has the potential to become soon a good match for any ‚older’ market in Europe.
The affiliation of Romslot to Euromat – European Gaming and Amusement Federation, the strong connections with the operators and similar associations in other countries, a permanent cooperation with the authorities as to improve legislation have filled the gap among Romania and other countries.
Now, with the online market opening on the way (following certain required legal modifications), this difference will be almost invisible. This is an advantage for everyone involved, as a ‚catch 22’ but with a positive meaning: if the player is happy, then the slot organizer can develop, which means large earnings going to the budget. But it can happen the other way – should the legislation and fiscality allow it, then the organizer can improve his business and make investments so as the player be happy.

What do you think is the major issue in the current legislation in the slots sector?
R: The legislation was created on a ‚one for all games’ basis, not taking into account the specifics of each game.
A game is a spin of the machine – the so-called ‚pull the lever’. Here, the bets/amounts are small (moneywise) and the gaming sessions mean that the player has to move from one device to another and/or around different rooms. In compliance with the present legislation, the taxing of the players’ winnings by 25% is for one day, for earnings of over 600 lei from an organizer. Or, to put it into practice, is impossible.

At the same time, the entrance ticket, initially meant to replace this taxing impossible to implement, but motivated by the authorities as a social protection measure, has brought an unwanted result: the players have left the autorized rooms, whose organizers abide by the current norms, to the black market or on-line where the present legislation is not present yet.

Should you start it over, would you still cross roads with gambling? If yes, what would be your main incentive?
R. There are many things to do here, many challenges – this industry is going upward, if only mention the on-line games. It is stimulating, keeps you ‚plugged in’, have no time to get bored.
If I crossed roads with this field? Yes, I would definitely do that, because I love what I am doing!

Any plans for the future?
R. As I said before, we are going for a transparent, fair and implement-able legislation. We are in the lookout for the expansion and development of the partnership with the other gambling associations.
We really want to witness a visible elimination of the illegal gambling and unfair competition.
We will keep on acting for improving the image in the gambling industry, for making known the fact that we speak for reliable business people, in good standing with the fiscal authorities, who have made investments and continue to do so in our country, who create a considerable number of employment places. This is an industry to provide a nice pastime, a lot of fun.
We also want Romslot be a trustworthy partner to the authorities, to benefit everyone.
Another important objective is to have closer connections with Euromat – European Gaming and Amusement Federation, where Romslot is a member.
Euromat, with its seat in the vicinity of the European Parliament in Brusells, an organization of 23 representative associations in the gambling sector in 18 European states, is an active promoter for a legal framework and a healthy business environment for the gambling industry.
Romslot intends to cooperate with all the Euromat members, to share from its experience and knowledge and, at the same time, to take advantage of the experience of similar associations in the other European states, to support and help one another.

Do you have a word for the readers of our publication?
R. Following the model of the similar professional associations in Europe, Romslot brings together slot organizers of all sizes, throughout Romania. Our goal is to fight for the interests of the operators, irrespective of their caliber or their involvement in society and to promote an ethical behavior, in order to protect the consumers and the loyal competition. On the other hand, as national representative, we are an important partner in our dialogue with the authorities, mass-media and the public.

We are truly confident that, in the near future, we will be able to represent as operators who share the same ideas and plans for the later times.

Thank you!

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