More active, fast, independent and, of course, more transparent and united, these are the attributes that best characterize the gaming industry for which the year 2016 was a turning point. Finalization of the legislative package by adopting secondary regulations (meaning the rules of law enforcement) and transformations through which the field went through afterwards, all resulted into a change both of form and substance of the whole industry in Romania.
In such a context, the cohesion of the industry has also increased, new partnerships have been made, programs were unified, the role and importance of associations increased, just as it happened with the number of their members. And ROMBET Association was one of the most active and most present associations in Romania. Seminars, projects and programs, major international events or workshops which ROMBET representatives spoke at repeatedly during the past months, were all strategic points on the agenda of a busy year with positive results for the Romanian association.
2016 in just a few words – Dan Alexandru Ghita, ROMBET President
“First of all we are pleased that major players in the gambling industry in our country have understood that power lies not in working on their own, but working together.
The proof for that is the fact that during this year, an important number of members from the country and from abroad joined the association. The new legislative framework, the manner in which all those involved in the gambling industry are working with regulators, in our case ONJN, led Romania on the map of the most attractive European countries in terms of foreign investors.
We all know that our field is controversial, which has been frequently the subject of unjustified attacks coming from several areas. But we also know that once united around the same objectives of cohesion, transparency, unity, we only have to make this a viable strategy to lead us to the desired result. ROMBET conveyed this message consistently and unequivocally during the year that has just ended. In spring, we organized seminars in Iasi, Cluj, Oradea and Bucharest where our experts sought to clarify ambiguities of the law, we made ourselves available to all, members or not of our association, who were looking for advice or further explanation.
We were present every time at the events in the country devoted to our industry and we successfully represented Romania at major international conferences and seminars in Europe, events on the subject of various aspects of the gaming industry, often sitting at the table with officials from regulatory bodies of different countries in Europe, including representatives ONJN. And after each meeting, we left behind an image of a strong and uniform industry, for which communication with legislators, on the one hand, and players, on the other hand, are the essential coordinates towards the development to a mature market.
What do we expect, as an association from 2017? We intended to continue and develop projects and programs in 2016 but also to add some new ones, equally important.
And here I would like to mention the establishment of the Foundation of public interest for a socially responsible game, but not only … As I have said repeatedly, ROMBET association is a supporter and promoter of the interests of its members, a status which guarantees support, legal advice, tax and accounting as well. We are present at meetings of parliamentary committees where they discuss projects with impact on the gambling industry, actively participate in all meetings of the Consultative Council from ONJN and we intend to remain equal partners in the future in the dialogue of the authorities with responsibility in gambling. Romania is still in its infancy, but it will require hard work and constant effort to achieve its full potential in a mature gambling market, as we all want.
2016, in a few words – Anchidim Zăgrean, ROMBET vice president
Our association started with the desire to have an industry which leads, not to allow itself to be led. We look at it now and see a different picture of the industry and other pluses. We are stronger, more organized, but also more informed, because having unclear or unenforceable laws is not in anyone’s interest, be they operators, players, legislators or … for the state budget.
In 2016, the “caravan” of Rombet seminars was hosted by several cities. Oradea (March), Bucharest (April), Cluj and Iasi (May). Interest was high, attendance at events was better than we expected.
It is clear, therefore, that it takes the correct information to flow and expert voices are needed to step in to answer questions which, we assure you from the experience of the year that has just ended, are not few. ROMBET did this in 2016, and the “caravan” will certainly continue in 2017, because such seminars are a must if we want to apply legal regulations correctly and consistently.
The image of the gambling industry in our country is a positive one, at this time, as it is seen abroad. A legislative framework already operates which is desired in many European countries, among which is Poland. This year the first permanent licenses and permits for operators of online games were granted, also Class II licenses were granted for activities related to gambling. It was a good year and, as I mentioned, our legal framework is above considerations an example of good practice. But it is, and must be perfect. Technology is evolving and, with it, the needs of the players change, as well as the demands from the operators. We listened the feedback coming from our members and ROMBET is already working on a set of proposals to improve some legislative stipulations. We will cooperate, same as before, with the National Office for Gambling in finalizing these proposals and we will support them as soon as the possibility of a legislative update will appear.
2016 in a few words – Dan Iliovici, senior vice president of ROMBET
Being a “player” in the gambling industry, be it as an association, as is our case, ROMBET, assumes a number of responsibilities.
And one of them is to be always up to date on legislative news, on trends regarding new business opportunities and ideas for new projects with the purpose of responsible gaming. To access all this is necessary (but not sufficient!) the presence at international events bringing together big names in the field. During these conferences and workshops, representatives of our association often received the invitation to talk about the current climate of the field in Romania. I even dare to say that ROMBET was our country’s ambassador to the main meetings on gambling in Europe. We started the year attending ICE Totally Gaming, the largest European event dedicated to the industry.
We had the opportunity to promote the market in Romania for leading online operators, we learned which were trends and expectations for 2016, we made connections with some of the biggest names in the world of gambling that have turned their attention towards our country. Spring was marked by attending, as in previous years, EGR Online Gambling Briefing – Eastern Europe, in Prague, where I had the opportunity to talk about the opportunities that online gambling market in Romania represents.
In September, we returned to London for the World Regulatory Briefing – Responsible Gambling Innovation, an event that drew attention once again on the importance of developing Responsible Gaming projects. And the discussions on this subject, which represents one of the strategic directions of our association, continued in Warsaw during World Regulatory Briefing Eastern Europe, and in Sofia, at the 9th edition of the Eastern European Gaming Summit.
Both events were attended by representatives of our association either as speakers or as moderators of panels dedicated to our country, which were attended by representatives at the highest level within ONJN. We are present and represent the interests of our members and of the entire industry at all international conferences we attend. We think (and we plan) to organize an event of this scale and Bucharest.
Why not? We are one of the European countries that have emerged as a best practice example and ROMBET has the entire “infrastructure” to materialize such an ambitious project, thanks to our experience and numerous media partnerships we have, among which those with Clarion Events (ICE Totally Gaming organizer, WrB, EiG) or SBC Events (organizer Betting on Sports).
As my colleagues have said, the purpose of our association is that the industry develops in an organic manner through joint efforts and involvement from all its members. We are expecting 2017 to be full, marked by participation in international events from the first months of the new year: in February – ICE 2017, March – Vienna International Gaming Expo, but we will continue also internally to get involved in Responsible Gaming projects and of course, we intend to participate actively and directly in the constitution and especially in the activity of the future Foundation for Social Responsible Gaming. The expertise and knowledge we have accumulated in three years of existence, partnerships and good name that our association has on the external level will certainly be advantages the Foundation can benefit from while implementing its projects of Responsible Gaming.
We made good progress in 2016 and 2017 must impose the same alert and constructive pace of gaming activities development in our country. It’s a challenge, but one that ROMBET is more than honored to accept!