Odeta Nestor succeeded in a world considered to be men’s world and found an advantage working for companies were men where a majority, being permanently in competition with them which helped her taking quick and right decisions, taking all the opportunities and risks.
” It is true, the financial aspect is important but I always was passionate about what I was doing and this helped me to gain success.”
You held the position of Financial Director at Regent Casino, Monte Calm, Olympic Casino Bucharest. Your career is quite impressive in this sector. How did it feel and how would you define you activity there?
For the last years, I have involved myself into an interesting and exciting field, i.e. gambling, and I can say that this world is a constant fascination for me and it surprises me all the time. I have indeed discovered a refreshing and diverse world, with lots of activities and complex operations, which require a correct management and tons of attention. The Financial Director is in charge with the highest level of the financial management of the casino – costs, fiscality, risk management, analysis of suppliers and clients, financial evaluation, as well as the relations with the investors and authorities.
It has been a true challenge for me to work in 4 different casinos, with distinct brand identities and business models, in a time when the casino market went into decline. This is exactly how I can define my activity in the casinos – challenge.
You have 13 years of experience in tourism and 7 in the casinos sector. Talk about your professional experience and how these two fields helped you with your career.
Should we think about the gambling tourism, this is gaining more ground as time passes by, so the transition from one side to the other is normal. Even though the two branches of the services sector are connected, each one is unique, enjoying special features and services, different facilities and benefits. The experience and abilities I have gained in 15 years of tourism have actually helped me tremendously with my casino activity.
How big was the financial motivation and how much passion were involved?
It is true that the financial motivation is a big ingredient, but I have always been passionate about my job and this is how I have reached success. I was lucky enough to go to work every day and love it, which gave me the boost for new and varied projects. When there is passion, you find quick solutions, you are more energetic and creative. Career implies passion, talent, motivation, determination and a lot of work.
How would you define the work in a casino?
I must admit that the casino is a fascinating and original place, and the work there is filled with suspense, challenge and adrenalin, which obviously attract the players to it.
For many other people, unfortunately, the casino is a mysterious place, visited by rich and adventurous people, a place where luxury is at home. Too many stories have been told about loss and fabulous winnings, frauds and victorious playing schemes. To tell you the truth, casinos are places where people of all ages and social categories come to play, to have fun in their free time and socialize with friends.
As a woman, how was it to work in a field that people say it is exclusively meant for men?
It is a real advantage to work in companies where men hold most positions. I had the chance to meet special people, who taught me to be more competitive, take fair and quick decisions, not to miss the opportunities and take the risks.
As an honest opinion, what is missing in the gambling industry?
The gambling industry is now facing three serious impediments – an adverse legislation, decrease in the number of players and the money played, as a consequence of the economic downfall and the unfavorable perception that people have on gambling. To correct the above, the Romanian gambling sector really needs a proper legislation, a coherent policy of recovery, as well as a strategy of changing the public image.
What and how do you intent to improve from your new position – President of the National Gambling Office, along with state secretary duties?
The National Gambling Office authorizes, monitors and controls the gambling activities. As a President of this newly established structure, I will focus on the following:
– Compliance with the legal stipulations and their correct implementation
– Decrease of the illegal games and unfair competition
– Promotion of the responsible gambling and provision of the highest security standards
– Improvement of the image of gambling industry
Moreover, I consider essential to pay attention to the dialogue with everyone involved in the gambling industry – organizers, manufacturers and equipment suppliers, related associations and mass-media – in order to stimulate this sector in our country.
How did the people react after you having been appointed by prime minister Victor Ponta in this important position?
After the appointment, I was congratulated a lot…. in time, I am sure that critics and comments will be made about my work. But, as long as they are constructive, they do not bother me.
You used to work with the Romanian Lottery. What was it like, what did you enjoy and what you did not?
Prior to my employment with the Romanian Lottery, as Advisor to the General Director, I had already known the private operators, who were active in the casino sector and electronic gambling. While at the Lottery, I found out how the state branch was operating while becoming familiar with the Lottery products and betting. So now, I am quite knowledgeable about the entire range of products and services that are particular to the gambling industry.
This was an important professional step, which has helped me learn new information and understand better all the intrincacies in the Romanian gambling.
Tell us about the duties you have with the Office.
The President, along with the management team, coordinates the entire activity of the Office, administers and monitors the gambling operations, follows up on the compliance with and implementation of the current legislation, supervises the online gambling and runs the risk analysis for the licensed operators. Plus, it legally represents the Office in its relations with other public institutions, with the main players in the gambling industry in Romania or abroad and participates in the activites of the international organisms and forums. It also provides cooperation, information exchange and representation in the gambling sector and it is allowed to conclude partnership and cooperation protocols with similar institutions, related associations or with other authorities.
How do you intend to proceed so as to have a better relation with everyone in the gambling sector?
For the moment, the gambling market is going through many changes in terms of legislation, regulations, technological innovations and internet use. As you already know, we are in the final stages of the regulations for authorization of the operators and online betting that will facilitate the opening of new market of services in Romania, which is the online gambling.
This is why now, more than ever, I deem necessary to have a coherent and permanent dialogue with the representatives of the associations in gambling, with the independent operators, the equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with everyone interested in investing in gambling, so as to pinpoint the main issues in this industry and find appropriate solutions.
To this purpose, I have supported and implemented the establishment of the Advisory Council of Business people in gambling. The objective of this organism is exactly the necessity to strengthen the relations between the governmental politics and the private sector. This is visible in the monthly meetings with this Council, where we talk about the emergent problems on the gambling market and also about the novelties and legal changes or the suggestions coming from the gambling industry representatives.
Our publication, Casino Life & Business Magazine, is the only organizer and initiator of the Romanian Gambling Conference. During its both editions, all the participants have complained about the deficient relation with the authorities, with the legislative context… Do you believe that you will find a way to communicate, efficiently and beneficially for everyone? Will your tremendous experience in this field give you a helping hand in better understanding the situation?
I applaud the initiative of Casino Life & Business Magazine to actively get involved in facilitating the dialogue between the state and the top gambling representatives.
While working in the private sector, I was always asked to express my opinion and I made some suggestions meant to improve the legal framework. Hence, I will taken into account all the recommendations coming from the people aiming to improve the activity of the Office and gambling market.
Have you ever played in a casino? If yes, please share with us your story.
It might seem surprising, but I have never tried my hand at the gaming table.
What are the major differences between the gambling industry in Romania and abroad? How long do you think will take us to reach their level and how should we do it?
Once the National Gambling Office was established, there were created the prerequisities of developing a strong and stable industry. We all know the issues in the Romanian gambling – a flawed legislation, the unlicensed games, economic crisis – just to name a few of the factors. Upon looking at the social and economic, legal and tehnical threats in this field, it is necessary to adopt and implement initiatives, take relevant measures and come up with policies that will counterattack these negative items. The Office will regularly review its policies concerning the authorization, regulation, reporting any other matters. We are certain that our activity and the gambling organizers’ will help flatten out the differencies between us and the others in no time.
Who is the woman Odeta Nestor?
The woman Odeta Nestor is a regular person, with ambition and expectations from life, and who is motivated to build her life in line with these expectations.
Any human has the freedom to choose who wants to be and how the daily reality should look like. Day be day, we find ourselves in various situations and have reasons to want to change our life and broaden our horizon.
What I really like for me and my beloved is that I want to be a role model for my children, so that they live in a normal and fair world – this is my strongest motivation in my work. In spite of the obstacles, I only said to myself ‚thank you for the chance to become stronger’. And this is the attitude that has brought me the best performance. I have raised my standards in terms of outcome and this is how I have the conviction that there is a reason for my fight.
How did you join this gambling world, what was the appeal in it?
After 15 years in the tourism industry, I was given the chance to work as a Financial Director for the Olympic Group, which was about to open a live casino and slot rooms in Romania. I have come upon a phenomenon, a field that turned into a passion and keeps bringing satisfaction, despite of the present hardships.
What do you think was your trump card for your appointment with the National Gambling Office?
With no hesitation… professionalism.
You are 36. What is the best professional and personal achievement?
I have a successful career, a wonderful family, two amazing children… I feel myself a very lucky person.
And a failure, if you have any…
The economic crisis that we are going through has had major impact on the gambling industry. Thus, many casinos and slot rooms closed, a large number of employees were left without their jobs. It is indeed hard to see an once flourishing industry crumbling before your eyes. I have said yes to this position with the National Gambling Office just because I wish to invigorate this sector dear to my soul.
Are you familiar with our publication, Casino Life & Business Magazine, the first gambling magazine in Romania? What is your take on this type of publications?
I enjoy reading your magazine as often as I can. Such a niche publication, dedicated to gambling, which brings complete information in this sector, is more than necessary. The interested people can find out, by reading Casino Life & Business Magazine, the latest on the legislation, forecasting, innovations and the opinions of the gambling authorities.
What message do you have for our readers, passionate about this industry?
My message for your readers is: Play responsibly!
I had a definite purpose in leaving the topic of responsible gaming for the end.
Most people play it for fun but there are others for whom gambling has turned into a problem, which must be dealt with seriously. One of the main tasks for the National Gambling Office is to protect the underage children and to prevent the ludopathy by promoting the responsible gaming. I will closely follow up on this objective from my position of Office President.
Thank you for this interview and wish you good luck!