Retrospective and plans for a better New Year with representatives of the gaming industry in Romania

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We are facing a new year which we all look forward to and where we all set out, as always, high hopes for improvement.

So, we talked with prominent representatives of the gambling industry in our country about how 2016 was for them and, especially what their hopes are regarding 2017.

Dan Alexandru Ghiță, President, ROMBET
What was the year 2016 like for you?

I think we can place 2016 under the sign of accountability.
I am glad that 2016 meant strengthening the dialogue in the industry, between industry and consumers, between industry and authorities. I can say that the year ending now was the first year during which we’ve seen an unprecedented mobilization in the overall effort to build a more coherent and cohesive industry, which means that we finally began to look at the functioning of the gambling industry in terms of common interest. That is why I named this year – which is nearing its end – a year of accountability.
Our association has significantly strengthened its ranks; not only in membership, but especially in the involvement and participation in activities organized by us. We were extremely active and well received by operators in the province, where the people are “set”, quieter and more open to dialogue.
We attended a record number of international events where the market in Romania was always in the spotlight.

What do you expect from 2017?
If 2016 was a year of accountability, I hope 2017 is one of … responsibility. I’ve said it repeatedly: we have legislation, we have an authority – ONJN, we have an associative framework, so we have full legitimacy. It is our personal responsibility to act together with a concerted effort, so to eliminate even the smallest image prejudice – and we know how much work needs to be done in this area. As in any field, reform comes from within. I know, it’s hard for operators that as soon as they had their business on their feet they must start thinking about all this, but these elements are vital. In the gaming industry, small clump make great oaks fall: an operator which is considered “too small” to come under scrutiny or public authorities may jeopardize an entire industry by deviating from norms. Unfortunately, we sometimes see this. Responsibility is our mission: of the industry and operators, authorities, the media.
In this equation, the consumer must be at the forefront. It is he who must be protected, otherwise you’re out of business.
That must all understand: the company is not the one which pays the salary, the satisfied customer does.
We live in interesting times, extremely dynamic, in which the domination of technology is obvious. We see and, most likely, we will see new game types in 2017 also, new types of leisure activities, we increasingly see important international operators on the Romanian gambling market, along with local companies. However, this means professionalization of the industry, creating jobs and, why not, to slowly change the image of this field. We all can and should contribute to achieve this purpose.

Marius Stoi, Director General, DGL PRO
How was 2016 for you?

For DGL Pro, 2016 is marked by the first type approval and commercialization of boards for devices with limited risk and SAS compatible slot for communicating with online monitoring systems as required by ONJN.

What do you expect from 2017?
We expect that in 2017 all operators are online via the monitoring system and we are ready to respond to requirements for boards with limited risk and SAS compatible slot. 2017 will be a year of change, a year in which the gaming industry becomes a more socially responsible and transparent industry. DGL Pro has made every effort to be the main promoter of this change.
Regarding the market, we expect the next year to double the number of machines with limited operating risk in the market, obviously due to 50% lowered taxes and to new requirements for online monitoring.

Dragos Buriu, Director General, NEWTON SLOTS
What was the year 2016 like?

2016 was for us a year with many challenges but with even more successes. With over 20,000 games connected to the system and over 100 partner companies, the task of being the best was met with flying colors.
The award for the best system of 2016, did nothing but confirm our quality as a company and the products and services of our partners. 2016 was also a year in which we have grown both in number of employees and number of solutions offered to all partners, so that we can clearly say that currently we offer the complete solution for a successful business.

What do you expect from 2017?
2017 will certainly be a year full of surprises for all partners, the development plan is one as broad and as well-structured as possible, with a single objective, namely fulfilling all the requirements and needs of our customers.
Upgrade packs launched in 2016 will delight all operators, thus being able to improve their locations by going to a prize without any effort. As an example, 6.0 NEWTON VIP loyalty system was a star product in 2016, which is one of the most requested upgrade packages.
In 2017, our partners will enjoy many more solutions with the help of which they will easily floor the competition, because our system can only be limited only by lack of imagination.

Andrei Frimescu, Marketing and Communication Director, Game World
What was the year 2016 like for you?

For Game World, 2016 meant, first of all, the anniversary of 17 years of continuous activity in Romania, a continuity which we are very proud of with the more so as the level of offers and quality of services increased continuously during this period. Secondly, we can say that 2016 was a good indicator of the company’s ability to successfully adapt to changes, challenges and new market conditions in our country.
On a personal level, 2016 will remain the year we accounted Game World as speaker at a number of major events including the Slot Summit Berlin, EEGS Sofia and, not least, at the Gamblig Marketing Forum, held for the first time in Bucharest.

What do you expect from 2017?
Game World looks towards 2017 with optimism and we have high expectations for the year beginning. We are developing new projects and certainly will be others to come along.
We have solutions to problems that we have seen and we will certainly find ways to solve together any difficulties that will arise. At personal level, 2017 will come with the 25 year anniversary since I started working in the field of casinos. So we have every reason to believe that 2017 and all the years to come will be at least as interesting and beautiful as those who have passed.

Viorela Rădoi, Executive Director, ROMSLOT
What was the year 2016 like for you?

As expected, 2016 was one of adapting the market to recent legislative changes. It is important to note that these changes have had the beneficial effects such as a clearer regulation, have created the premises for greater transparency of the market and opened new business areas, such as the online community. Connecting means of playing to the centralizing computer system of the ONJN is also a big step for our industry, a measure that Romslot supported it and we are confident that it will contribute substantially to eliminate illegal practices, which we consider the greatest enemy of the industry.
For Romslot, the year was extremely intense with great legislative challenges. We are proud that through our efforts, the whole industry escaped the other burdens of taxation, such as the draft laws aimed at allocating another 7 percent of the profit made by economic operators to historical monuments and cinema. Gambling exemption from new rules that aim at banning smoking in enclosed public places was another challenge to our Association, but amid a huge public pressure on this issue, we did not manage to convince the authorities.
In conclusion, this year, the specific dynamics of the gaming industry has been complemented by an adaptation dynamic to the latest legal requirements.
There are still issues to be clarified in what the legislation is concerned, but we are confident that the partnership authority – industry works very well and will be remedied.

What do you expect from 2017?
At the beginning of 2016, during an event organized by our magazine, Romslot urged the industry to adopt a principle of RESPONSIBLE PROFIT, as we symbolically called it.
We keep the same impetus for 2017 and we are glad that the set of ethical principles launched inside the Responsible Gambling Program at the annual exhibition Entertainment Arena Expo was embraced also by ONJN.
We want the industry to be governed by stability, although we do not exclude the legislative challenges, particularly since we have a new Parliament.
This is why the ongoing dialogue with the authorities will remain a priority for Romslot.
Given the significant adverse effects on the gaming indus try of the law banning smoking in enclosed public places, our Association will continue the efforts to convince our industry legislator regarding exemption of our industry from this law.
We hope to have the support of other associations to make an assessment of that impact a year from the law enforcement, to provide to the authorities robust arguments and representative for the entire industry.
I conclude by saying that we want 2017 to be the year of partnership at industry and authorities level, primarily in the management of actions dedicated to players. I take this opportunity to welcome associations and companies which have already notified us that they want to contribute to the development of Responsible Gaming Program.

Doru Gheorghiu, Executive Director, Romanian Bookmakers
How was 2016 for you?

An unfortunate one for traditional sports betting companies. It was probably the hardest year for the organizers of the sector we represent, amid the wave of inspections triggered by ANAF under an erroneous interpretation on the income of the gambling operator by the tax authority, which generated the finding of fantasy debts to the state budget. Romanian Bookmakers acted promptly to clarify the fact that the administration acts on a mistaken premise, which brings along the threat of extinction in the number of operators in the field.
In fact, at the administration level, it was verbally recognized that there is a grave mistake with consequences to match, however, for fear of accountability, ANAF operations are invariably carried to completion. Unfortunately, the consequences can be already seen: series of sports betting companies declare their insolvency while two operators have already disappeared from the market because of the enormous debt set by ANAF.

What do you expect from 2017?
We expect to solve the problem explained above, regarding 2016. In this respect, companies have already acted, in turn, taking tax authorities to court, and the only admissible solution in our opinion, assessing the arguments of the parties, would be the cancellation of popostruous taxation of ANAF. We are waiting the answer to the complaint made by the Romanian Bookmakers at the European Commission on this case, a verdict which will elucidate to maximum extent this situation.
We would like to invite, using this way, the traditional betting sector companies to turn to us for support in this legislative dispute with ANAF, assuring them of our help, even if they are not members of Romanian Bookmakers.

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