Gambling industry in Romania

Three personalities discussing about the gambling industry

The gambling industry, with its pros and cons, is one of the highest contributors to the state budget. Last year, the revenue reached almost one billion euros, according to the media reports.

Hence, in compliance with the principles of the competitive economy of the rule of law state, everyone wishes what every healthy industry has got: well-defined laws, ethics, transparency. Of course, gambling has its specific features that put them apart from other public activities.

Since they have to deal with a ‘challenging’, difficult industry, this is the reason why the Rombet association plans are ambitious: to bring a unity in the industry, transparency, an active and fruitful dialogue with the officials that will generate lucrative ideas, to create an atmosphere where both parties know that they did their best on their end.

This was exactly our intention when we invited deputy Daniel Florea to a dialoguem asking him to send a few messages to the interested readers by Casino Life & Business Magazine. His answers will accompany those of Mrs. Odeta Nistor, ONJN President and Mr. Dan Ghita, Rombet President.

You can follow our conversation with Mr. Daniel Florea, deputy in the Legal Commission of the Chamber of Deputies in the following lines…

Mr. Florea, you have a remarkable activity at the Parliament – this is obvious not only in your initiatives, but in numbers and deeds. Is it passion or only a ‘civic duty’, the way all people serving the citizens should perceive and practice?
It is passion, of course. I love what I am doing, working for people and I have never felt my actions as a duty or even worse as a drudgery. My opinion is that we are appointed at the Parliament to have initiatives, I think that people who have sent us there are entitled to meet us in person anytime they need, and going to the local activities of the county that elected you is a must-do for me. I do all these gladly.
How do you see the improvement in the dialogue between the gambling and the legal representatives?
It is a big step forward. We needed a more intense communication because, as Mr. Dan Ghita admits, it is paramount that every party brings arguments to its side of the camp. We see things from a perspective where the opinion of the other partner is very welcome. This is the only way we will have real improvements in the gambling industry.
What are the steps that the industry should take to achieve transparency and harmonization of the gambling activity?
One of them – extremely important – has been already taken – and is the one I was telling you about in the previous question – the step to a more intense dialogue, more open with the state officials. Then, I think that they should communicate via all the channels, not only with the legal decision makers. Romanians still believe that the gambling universe is still full of mystery and wrongdoing and this perception must change. I would like to see the gambling representatives more active – involved in various programs of a responsible gaming, present during media events where they should clear up things for everyone when it is required. They would do better if they were more in agreement and representation was more visible. I am so glad that ROMBET is focusing on the above.
What is your opinion on the standards and the ethics in this industry?
As for the standards, I believe that important and big steps were taken thanks to the latest legislation, as well as by creating the body for regulation, licensing and authorization, control and monitoring, i.e. the National Gambling Office. The registration and adherence to professional associations is the first move that the gaming operators can use to make themselves and their ideas more visible, can act as an organized and professional organism upon all the issues bothering them, by which they can present their results, as they are, as well as the proposals to improve the specific legislation that the economic practice and exploitation of this activity requires, to everyone’s benefit. As for the ethics, the most important role needs to be played by the professional associations, which have the opportunity to follow up on the compliance with such ethics criteria in the gambling organization and exploitation.
Do you consider any other legal initiatives in this field, other than the one you have proposed? Why do you think it is a good initiative?
My legal initiatives always start from the desire or the request of the people who voted me for the parliament, during direct meetings or in written appeals. They express their discontentment or concern about things and deeds occurring in their area of residence. This is how this legal initiative on slot machine type came to light. I cannot tell that it is the best, but I know that it will prove good and welcomed after it is given a final form, debated with Rombet, dealt with in the commission reports and last but not the least in the Parliament.
What do you think will change and impact the emergence of this professional association ROMBET?
A first change is a more communication between us, as I was talking about earlier. From the position of former opponents, if I call them like that, we have opened up more to each other in terms of projects and we are now more aware of our perspectives. It is extremely important to feel that we have a dialogue partner with whom we can build something. Then, the experience of Mr. Dan Ghita, ROMBET President, will certainly have a say so for the benefit of its members. The simple fact that this association has hit the nail on the head in this industry and brought together the important people to bring the Romanian market closer to the European ideal is already a huge change.
What message do you have for our readers, the gambling representatives, who are looking forward to the new legislation?
To the readers, I tell them to play responsibly and enjoy this passion sparingly. To the gambling representatives, I promise that we will listen to all the opinions prior taking any decisions, as we are open to the dialogue. As I said it back in May, when ROMBET launched, we want to confer with one another so as to protect the vulnerable categories of people and to give the industry the opportunity to carry on and out its activity.

In a dialogue with Mrs. Odeta Nestor, President of the National Gambling Office…

What is your opinion on the emergence of a new professional association, Rombet?

We acclaim the establishment of this new association. Our objectives are the same, which include an active and functional, well-regulated market, the improvement of the relation between the operators and decision makers, the promotion of the responsible advertising, as well as the protection of the players. All these make us hope in an effective and open, with positive outcome both for the authorities, the private sector and the services consumers.

How would you describe the present moment in the Romanian gambling industry?

Right now, the market is going through a time of resettlement, after the financial turmoil, rather difficult for everyone.
We have a dynamic gambling industry, of a significant economic importance, with perspectives and in full swing of development. I am very confident that our joint efforts will be frutiful. We are working now at high speed, with all the expertise acquired, at the latest legislation amendments, learning from the experience of other countries and implementing it to the needs of the Romanian market. Our activity is sustained in terms of control, which is visible in the considerable decrease in the illegal activities.
I wish to assure the people in the private sector that they will have all the support they need from us in building a responsible, mature and fair industry, both for the companies on the market and for the players. While considering the amendments in the regulations of other European states in the online gambling, and wanting to respond to the dynamics in this field, we also think that this is the best time to achieve the implementation of the legislation, with the help of expertise of other states in this area.

How will you work with Rombet? What are the strengths in this cooperation?

As I have already said, we are open to the dialogue. The relation with the operators is very important and the regular meetings with their representatives truly help us to be aware of the ‘pulse’ of the market and come in contact with the real hardships, thus establishing a correct and transparent relation with them. The partnership with the private sector, especially one of professionals, as it is here, can only bring mutual benefits, visible in a flexible and transparent legislation that will create the premises of a professional and responsible market and of an industry that we want to turn into a significant contributor to the state budget.

What do you think are the steps for negotiating with the signatories of the legal initiative that made such a stir on the market?

It is not about a negotiation, at least not one we take part in. I believe that the debates on the parliament initiatives need to provide a transparent framework for presenting well-argued viewpoints, so that the aimed measures have a real and objective support.

What is your opinion about this legal initiative?

This legal initiative, depending on its final form, will definitely have major effects, both at the budget level and social. As for now, it is quite difficult to evaluate them as being positive or negative, since data are scarce. We, as a specific governmental body, will make ourselves heard within the special commission of the Romanian Parliament, considering our lawful competencies, as well as the inter-institutional consultation with other similar bodies of the states, mandatory by law.

Where and how can ONJN get involved more?

Since there is not an ONJN initiative, the involvement level is the one described above.

What steps have been taken in terms of the dialogue between the starters and the representatives of this industry?

This is a question to which we do not have the answer. We participated in this action every time we were invited.

What message do you have for our readers, the gambling representatives, who are looking forward to the new legislation?
From the very beginning, we state again our availability for a dialogue, both with the private sector and with the initiators of this legal project. And we keep on thinking that there is a real need for a series of genuine and crucial debates.
As for our position is concerned, we want to assure you that you will be able to see the results of the regulations and of the monitoring the gambling market, the major differences and the medium- and long-term effects for the stability in the gambling industry.

Here is the interview with Mr. Dan Ghiță, President of ROMBET…

What are the strengths of ROMBET, compared to the other professional associations?

The strength of ROMBET comes from its members and the skills of its management. We are talking about people of a vast professional experience in the gambling sector, with a special background – both academic and also the one acquired at the employment place. Our team is excellent. When we started on this journey, we stated that this industry lacks its unity. We do have it and our desire is to bring this professional harmony to the industry. My colleagues in the Managing Council are some special people – of an accomplished professional ethics, self-discipline, able to excellently work under pressure, enthusiastic, creative, energetic…should I go on ? it is worth mentioning that our contact network also helps us reach our objectives. Last but not least, I want to mention about our involvement in various groups or professional associations.
What is the first step in attracting new members?
As I said, we started with building this special team of ours, then we initiated a range of actions meant to inform the potential members as well as possible – there is a memo letter, documents including our flagship plans, our recently launched site that is available to all interested people. We believe in the slogan that says ‘ the more, the stronger’. In other words, any market operator is welcome to apply for becomng a ROMBET member.
In negotiation with the authorities, what would you start with?
First of all, we have introduced to them the objectives and mission of ROMBET, saying that we want to have a close cooperation in all the fields with joint interests, so as to change this market to the better, Afterwards, we started a dialogue with the officials on all the latest legal projects, which aim the gambling market. It is crucial that every part brings reasonable arguments for their point of view.
How would you describe the present moment in the Romanian gambling industry?
It is a rather delicate one, should you only recall the large number of legal initiatives that, almost with no exception, attempt to limit, restrict or even destroy certain games. To put it differently, the purpose is to leave certain market players without any specific activity.
Why did this legal initiative emerge and what will its goal be?
As I was saying, it is about more proposals for legal amendments – some are coming from certain concerns of the participants, with a significant emotional impact, but let’s say that this is not the right environment to debate all these initiatives.
We are available for a dialogue with the officials, with the initiators of such proposals, with the representatives of the gambling industry, with the civil society. This is the only way to have fair legal stipulations, to be equally implemented among all the industry stakeholders.
Nevertheless, I would mention the most ‘drastic’ initiative: the project to eliminate the slot machines from all the small locations, as well as from the dedicated gaming rooms – not a few, I would say, except for the casinos and the locations belonging to the Romanian Lottery. What are the results of this measure? Unemployment for thousands, maybe tens of thousands – according to the latest survey run by PwC Romania, an audit and fiscal consultancy company – the gambling industry has over 24,500 employees. Then, a serious decrease of the revenue to the State Budget – as mentioned by the same survey results, published in May this year. The gambling industry brought € 657 millions to the Budget in 2012, out of which over 420 million from the slot machines. And, of course, the dissolution of certain investments of tens if not hundreds of millions of euros (equipment, locations, infrastructure) – in a nutshell, the liquidation of an entire industry.
Since its establishment, what has ROMBET done in negotiating with the people who proposed this law?
We are in the middle of a dialogue with them and the competent authorities, in order to provide them with as objective and clear information as possible, so as the best measures be taken for all the parties involved. It is of a paramount importance that the law bodies find out how things are seen through our eyes. We intend to also confer with the other associations in the field, with the representatives of the industry in all categories, either small or large, so that we will bring our contribution to compiling a fair and applicable legislation, to the benefit of the industry.
What message do you have for our readers, the gambling representatives, who are looking forward to the new legislation?
This is exactly what is stipulated in the Articles of Association of our company: we are here to protect and promote, by all means, of the interests of our members. We want to improve the relations with the state authorities, in order to support the invested private capital in this sector. We are here for transparency, fairness, for a competitive market.

Thank you!

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