Ovidiu Iosif, Responsible Gaming Association: “There are responsible operators and others who are indifferent to the players’ problems!”

The executive director of the Responsible Gaming Association, Ovidiu Iosif, considers that being socially responsible requires a constant commitment and involvement on which depend, first of all, the well-being of customers, as well as the development and sustainability of the business. Ovidiu Iosif claims that this year he will address, both locally and globally, the operators who have not yet decided to invest in CSR programs in Romania.

What has 2021 meant for the Responsible Gaming Association?
It was a successful year because we developed new projects and attracted new sponsors, with transformations – we rethought the Adult Trained program for the online environment and we operationalized the Responsible Gaming program by including a Call Center – but also a rather difficult year , with many challenges, especially from a financial point of view. As our activity is funded exclusively by the private sector, and our sponsors and the founding members of the founding associations who were affected by the restrictions imposed, having activity mainly in landbased, there were times when we faced financial difficulties and thought to reduce the volume of our activities in order to fit in the budget. Fortunately for the Association, but in fact for the players with problems, new sponsors came with us such as: Unibet, Vlad Casino, Admiral Online, C.N. Romanian Lottery, Kambi and LasVegas.ro.

Has the number of players who have used your programs increased?
We noticed some trends: i) the Responsible Gaming program had a similar number of calls as in previous years, with the known seasonality over which the impact of the restrictions imposed on retail was marginally added; ii) the 24/7 Counseling program saw a significant increase in the number of calls and iii) the trend that appeared last year, with the first restrictions, in the sense of overlapping the dependency component of the conflict between spouses / family, caused by “discovery” by the family of excessive gambling at home, which continued into the second year of the pandemic.

Here are some of the highlights:
a) The 24/7 Counseling Program increased by almost 30% (3693 calls compared to 2871)

We attribute this to the growing popularity of the program, especially for players with certain digital skills, ie the majority online.

b) Starting with November of last year, we can gather relevant information about the applicants for psychotherapy sessions through the newly introduced Call Center. Here is their structure by age groups, sex and their geographical distribution.

There are global operators that allocate resources in other countries, but which, strangely, do not do so for Romanian players

Have you noticed any differences in the reporting of operators to the social responsibility programs you run?
There is, I would say, a different interpretation of the concept of “responsible gaming”. We are talking about two levels: the basic level – the one required by law (for example, the ban on the admission of people under the age of 18 to playgrounds) and the higher level of responsibility, manifested when an operator decides to get involved in the community where carries out its activity, to get involved in offering specialized support to those who show addictive behaviors. If all operators adhere to the first level, the same does not happen with the embrace of the upper level.

Do you have a strategy to increase the number of sponsors?
I will address, both locally and globally, the operators who have not yet decided to invest in CSR programs in Romania. Especially given that some global operators allocate relevant resources in other countries for similar programs, I find it at least strange that they do not have the same respect for Romanian players. We will also continue to engage in dialogue with operators who misuse our resources. If necessary, we will have to make clearer boundaries, because I find it unforgivable, especially in the area of ​​responsibility, which requires a high degree of morality, to use the logo and resources of the Responsible Gaming Association without holding this right.

What are your plans for this year?
We have developed, with the support of Maxbet, the Support Group program – a pilot project at the moment – and we are waiting to find out the results to make it operational. The results we have so far are encouraging. We will also have enough data collected through the Call Center based on which we will be able to highlight certain trends. We also plan a new youth education program, complementary to the Adult Coaching program.
We will place a stronger emphasis on communicating both our programs to potential beneficiaries (we have often been held back because we did not have the funds to support increased demand) and the efforts of our sponsoring operators. When I came to lead the Responsible Gaming Association, I imagined that the sponsorship of the basic programs is “by default”, and the challenges will come from the area of ​​implementing complex projects. Now I understand how big the difference is between the attitude of responsibility assumed and the one of indifference towards the problems they may have, it is true, a very small part, even of their own clients.

Ovidiu Iosif, Responsible Gaming Association: “There are responsible operators and others who are indifferent to the players’ problems!”

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