Three professionals in the gambling world have been making tremendous efforts and putting their knowledge to work to have this fascinating yet controversial sector follow an upward direction.
ROMBET – The Association of the Gambling Organizers – is making a stand for a united, transparent and correctly regulated gambling industry. The ROMBET representatives are sitting at the negotiation table to talk about the future legislation aiming the gambling sector, are actively involved in the grand events in this industry, are gathering valuable information from top international specialists.
You are invited to follow some of the most interesting ideas during a lively recent debate with Mr. Dan Ghita, Rombet President, Dan Iliovici, Rombet Vice-president and Executive Manager and Anchidim Zagrean, Vice-president, at the Association main office.
Mr. Dan Ghita, your schedule has been quite busy since day one of Rombet until now. What is the reason?
We started our Rombet mission with a list of objectives that we want to see all ticked off – in other words, we cannot afford to either get lost on our way or slow down. Ever since our establishment, we have had a lot of meetings and discussions with the state officials, during the numerous legal initiatives.
It was our great desire to be participants – as partners and sponsors – to the most important events in the gambling industry, both in the country and abroad. We have focused on concluding partnerships with famed foreign associations. As for me, I like a lot how the cooperation with Remote Gambling Association has been evolving, have a special professional relation with Mrs. Sue Rossiter, the RGA Director of Projects and Policy.
For the present stage mainly, we have considered important to conduct a comparative study regarding the national regulations and the taxation of the gambling industry in Europe.
We are paying a great attention to how gambling is perceived in the mass-media, asked for the right of reply and gave interviews to clear up all the aspects that are wrongly or less understood, without neglecting the sensitive issue of the responsible gambling.
I would like to thank everyone who believed in us and support us in all these – it is obviously only the beginning. I want to express my gratitude to the over 20 Rombert members who are involved in this ambitious project and for whom and with whom are we working.
Mr. Dan Ghita, what are your expectations for the Romanian gambling industry for the end of this year?
We are all looking forward to the final version of the draft at the Parliament on the gambling industry, which we hope to open the online gambling market in Romania. After ratifying the law, an important step will be to issue the norms of implementing it. I am repeating what I have already said: Rombet will provide the competent authorities with all the expertise and experience in the gambling sector, including the previously mentioned study regarding the gambling legislation in several EU states.
Mr. Dan Iliovici, you represented ROMBET at the recent conference Eastern European Gaming Summit in Sofia. Could you share some information on this far-reaching event?
We were part of quite interesting and lucrative debates about the stage, evolution and perspectives of the legal framework in the European gambling industry, the sensitive issue of the online gambling, the so-called social gambling and the responsible gambling.
Bulgaria, the host country and Denmark, were set as examples by numerous speakers as positive cases in terms of regulating the online gambling market within the European Union. The most recently adopted legislation in Bulgaria on the online gambling led to the licensing of 12 operators, half of which are local companies, in no more than 9 months since its effective date.
As Mr. Angel Iribozov said, BTAMOGI President (The Association of the Gambling Manufacturers and Organizers in Bulgaria), this law is not perfect, but improvements will be given, based on the expertise and recommendations made by the people in the industry.
During the Sofia event, I had the extraordinary pleasure to personally meet Mr. Harrie Temmink, Deputy Director of the General Directorate for Community Market and Services within the European Commission. We had a very pleasant discussion on the harmonization of the national legislation in the Member States with the regulations and recommendations in the EU. He mentioned that the organism he represents was always available to the regulation authorities in the EU States, as well as to everyone interested.
Mr. Iliovici, what are the priorities on the European Commission agenda, as understood from the presentation and discussion you had with Mr. Harrie Temmink?
The representative from the European Commission to EEGSa mentioned that there are 5 key targets, where the top one is the protection of the gambling consumers. First of all is to protect the minors, as well as vulnerable categories and people prone to addiction. Then, the European Commission aims to harmonize the national regulations with the EU. Similarly, the intention is to increase cooperation among the Member States at an administrative level and also to prevent the money laundering and frauds, to provide the integrity of their sport activities and restrict their tampering that will have a direct impact on gambling. I want to tell you that our association is on the same side with the European officials.
Mr. Zagrean, could you tell us about the positive impact that the latest draft on the EGR 77/2009 will have on the gambling industry in Romania?
I believe that the main positive effects of the amendment draft on gambling legislation, as seen in the amendments adopted by the Commission for budget, finance and banks in the Chamber of Deputies, are the following:
Ø A clear definition of the income of a licensed operator from gambling for the calculation of the autorization fee, since this stipulation will mean for the gambling industry:
1. Comparable data of this activity will be available, by having all the organizers use a single system of recording and reporting the earnings value, as well as the due fees.
2. All the disputes between the gambling organizers and the taxation authority will be resolved, in terms of the calculation base so as to establish the amount of the payment obligation to the state budget as an authorization fee.
Ø Allowing to have payment instruments, which have to do with the gambling exploitation, in the form of instruments used in the financial and banking system.
Ø The fact that gambling can be shared among one organizer and one or more economic operators or natural persons, based on a contract, where responsibility belongs to all the contracting parties.
Ø The opening of the online gambling and the elimination out of the legislation of the stipulations that are the object of ‚The Notice of Default’ of the European Commission and, thus avoiding an infringement procedure against Romania in a perception of the European Court as it happened in a similar case with Sweden.
What are the weaknesses of this project and the negative effects might have the adoption of the project in its current formulation?
In the ‘stipulations that might have negative consequences’ chapter, the listi includes:
Ø The substantial increase of the licensing and authorization fees for certain types of games.
Ø It is unfortunate that this project also keeps a different taxation system in the exploitation activity, both in the nature of the capital (state or private) and on types of gambling. This is neither competitive nor does comply with the fiscal neutrality principles.
Ø Further keeping the tax on the exploitation both in the special law (EGR 77/200), and in the Fiscal Code, which is double taxation for certain activities that is not to be found in the national legislation of the other EU states.
Mr. Ghita, what are the plans for ROMBET Association for the coming year?
It will be a loaded year, no doubt about that. The number one priority will be the support to the Rombet members and beyond in a quick and easy adjusting to the new regulations. No one wants to see the activity disturbed by these changes, and we like to make sure it will not happen. To go on, we would love being a great help to the organizers for traditional gambling who want to join the online sector.
I was telling you earlier, we do have an excellent partnership with Remote Gambling Association – an organization in the United Kingdom that is acknowledged worldwide in their expertise in online gambling. We will be using this connection and our expertise and of the foreign partners’ to help the Romanian operators that are interested in the online sector.
The list of priorities also includes the topic that Mr. Iliovici mentioned, namely the social responsibility of the gambling industry, the responsible gambling, which will definitely have a new format in 2015. Rombet is part of the Advisory Council associated with the National Gambling Office and will have an active presence in the implementation of the latest relevant stipulations.
We are, therefore, before a very important year, with multiple challenges that we wish to make a really good one for our industry.