Almost 3 years ago, few people were building what was to become ROMBET Association, around some ideas that have kept and will always and retain its status for strong principles in our industry: cohesion, transparency, unity. Like any project that needs to go from principles to reality, the construction of the Association took patience, passion and a lot of work, in order to create some things that were absolutely necessary: a general context of industry where trust and cooperation would no longer sound like two attributes of other times, but ones which have origins and meaning; a viable dialogue between the industry and the authorities in order to produce measurable results for all parties.
Today we work with the same enthusiasm as we did the first day, because the life of an association is a continuous building process.
Together with our members, partners and collaborators, we went through an extremely vivid and intense period of time, one in which we worked on preparing a fair legislative package which does not discriminate and disadvantage anyone. In addition, we believe that we now have a more unified and stronger industry – but let’s see what the future brings!
Dan Ghita, President of ROMBET:
We are extremely proud of everything we have achieved with ROMBET Association. Today, when I think that it all started from an idea and I look now at what we managed to build, I realize how much the market needed an association like ours: active, fast – because moving it’s not everything, it’s important how you do it – independent and militant. In fact, this is the spirit of an association. But the industry does not live only on spirit … It needs hard work to build, there are people and strong characters who are trying to raise and strengthen a business. If we talk about spirit, it’s true spirit. And this spirit should cross the entire industry.
It is what ROMBET actually tries to do: to instill passion, pride, determination, with a sense of belonging, unity and strength. Pretty difficult, right?
A paradigm shift
I’ve never been afraid of this, because we know what kind of industry we operate in. Personally, I know this industry for a long time and I know its strengths and weaknesses. Almost three years have passed and many people, especially in the press and outside the industry ask me „What did it mean for ROMBET all this time?”. You see, although we are in 2016 and we already enjoy 26 years of free market concept, I still tend to believe that we pioneered. We are missionaries, somehow. Think of the legislative package variants – always changed, discussed and disputed improved. Then, remember times of crisis, when the industry had become a kind of boxing partner for various political parties. And if you do radiography of the present, one can not say that big important step were not made. But there is a lot of work to be done..still! Therefore, I think ROMBET should mark a paradigm shift, by opening a new stage: that of partnership with the sole purpose of maturing the gambling market in Romania.
We are entering a very important period for the industry, one in which we must put aside the small interests and realize what an important economic sector we represent, and how important it is to implement the features that define us: transparency, fairness, strength, determination. Thus, the role of our Association appears more important than ever: we need to translate these values of business across the entire industry to replace our current role of moderator with that of leader-guide.
ROMBET continues to fight for the rights and non-discriminating treatment towards its members, but will provide increased importance to the macro-phenomenon in the industry: innovation, leadership, new business. Each company does these things as it sees fit, but ROMBET might have a major contribution to this major step of the industry, by sharing the experience of the leader-members and also of the big successful corporations worldwide.
I believe that there are very few important actors in the global gambling industry that has not been in touch with our Association. Romania is back on the map of important business destinations in the world, and we will enjoy every time we find „matching partners” in Romania for leading companies in Europe, USA, Asia, Latin America. THe industry is walking now on its feet, an industry in which ROMBET also assumes the role of consultant, assistant – if you will – of those interested to increase their business and adding value to the whole domain.
We will not succeed without a good image
Of course, another very important thing – the soul-project of ROMBET – remains the hard work that we do to change the perception towards gambling. Here, however, it is a lengthy process and will be the true test of our cohesion. It will be very difficult to go forward if some of the dialogue partners continue to see us through a dark prism; we are still subjected to a tough „shooting gallery” from the media and politicians. But we look at these things as positive criticism, constructive, which we deserve to learn from. Again, without unity we will not do much. We must overcome the boundaries set by pride, vanity and contracts, and „see things” in the long term. This is the perspective ROMBET has.
This is the future of the industry.
Anchidim Zăgrean, Vice –president of ROMBET:
After months and years of discussions and negotiations with the government and industry representatives, the best „reward” for the association came from the companies in the country, which we reached following an extensive program of visits in all regions of Romania.
Dozens of hours of debate due to legitimate questions, problems or simple misunderstandings, a sign that those who have business in this particular area – in the gaming industry – need a channel of communication and consultation on legislation, in all specific regulations of this domain.
The transition towards the time of consolidation
Therefore, I would say that also in the respect of legislation we are assisting at a transition, exactly as Mr Ghita said: we have a legislative frame which we struggled to make as good as possible but now we have to learn to apply it correctly.
ROMBET gets very much involved in this issue, with resources and personnel: I told you about seminars around the country, but let’s not forget the hundreds of messages to which we replied by e-mail, phone and on which we lingered … Think about the fact that not only our members are calling us!
We get phone calls or messages from people interested around the country. And only then you realize how important your mission and your role as an association is : ROMBET brings together something more than simple faith in some ideas, coagulates a certain spirit and appetite for action that will lead the industry forward, genuinely.
I think we succeeded during these three years, to give a practical meaning to the notion of associative action: very often we have direct interaction with our members and with industry representatives, not to mention the regular meetings with representatives from ONJN. I also think that we managed to instill, to those interested, the desire to engage in this dialogue which, ultimately, is the way that they lay their future milestones for the business and, why not, in life.
I was glad to discover that, especially in critical moments, the industry knows how to find the spirit of solidarity and is aware of its power. In the new phase that we start this moment, I would enjoy even more if we find resources and tools to preserve our enthusiasm and turn it into policy and ethical rules at business level.
From listeners, to leaders…
At the macro level, the industry – like many others in Romania – is now headed by legislators, not by the players. And not because the legislature has the whip longer not shouts louder, but because, but because it is still work to be done at the participatory democratic exercise. There is a rule in negotiation: you’ll never get what you do not ask. So, we in the gaming industry, we can not stand all the time with the nose in the business and expect everything to go well for itself. A solid construction requires collective involvement. Something has changed during the last 3 years, but a time of the same importance comes, that of consolidation.
And it will not be easy.
Dan Iliovici, senior vice president of ROMBET:
A particularly important part of the partnership for maturing the gambling market in Romania mentioned by my colleagues is the integration of the concept of Responsible Gaming.
A mature market is the one who guides and helps its players take the best decisions. A mature market understands the major role it plays in the awarness/ accountability of everyone involved in this sensitive area of gambling.
We need a change in perception
The responsible game will be / is the ultimate test for mature, solidary gambling market which we dream of, and which we need to work for together. It is an indispensable part of the process of changing the prejudices that affect the industry. But for this project to work, and the world to believe in its mission, we must first believe in it, we who work in this industry. I approached the topic repeatedly at ROMBET seminaries in the country, I went to the root of so-called problems, and we tried to discover exactly where to start of in building accountability. We have to do things very professionally, to better analyze problems the social context that influences the game in Romania, to understand the profile of the players, to know exactly the situation through a detailed study which we all keep on talking about.
We took a good look in these years at the how the issue of responsible gaming is handled in countries with experience and tradition in this area, I attended numerous events with experts, but also with those directly involved in the „pitch problems” and I firmly believe that we must use their expertise. We have carefully chosen partners abroad, and would be a shame not to tap into their creative experience and their know-how. We let ouserlves be guided in this area of professional voices, such as that of Ms Cristina Anghel, psychologist, whom I urged to submit her advice in specific columns, supported by our association. The special phone number- Help Line type- available to those with gambling problems was another step in this delicate subject that we can not tackle separately, but together.
A mission of accountability
We must make the transition from punctual programs of responsible gambling, conducted by everyone is it own way to a comprehensive program, well organized, the fruit of a united industry. I am talking about a project that is not seen only as a legal obligation from the legal side, but to be a true mission of empowerment, well understood and fully accepted by the industry of gambling.
Therefore, the role of ROMBET is more important than ever: we are all entering into a new, extremely important , profound maturitation of the market and of the industry. A time when we must realize that we are part of a dialogue that should become more structured and more efficient, to place consultation before the decision, as it is done in a strategic process. And the Romanian gambling industry started this strategic process.
We are glad that our association is an active part of this transformation: we encourage companies across the country to become more „aware” of the role they play in the construction of what will be tomorrow’s industry. We will continue to work tirelessly to create a unified voice, the voice of a sector dominated by a strong entrepreneurial spirit, to bring together at the same table businessmen, experts and representatives of the authorities to discuss both successes and problems.
ROMBET instilled a sense of solidarity in its members, but it is a sentiment that should be common to the whole industry.
We will make sure it will be.