Responsible gambling behavior became a topic most frequently addressed in recent years by the gambling industry in Romania.
Whether it’s about articles in specialized magazines, events devoted to this topic, companies that recall this topic in interviews or launching new initiatives in the area of responsibility, we are seeing more and more that we are maturing as an industry and that we step in the “era of responsible profit”, as ROMSLOT itself urged in its public demarches. ROMSLOT Association is, in fact, the first in the local industry which talked about and put the topic of “social responsibility” on the public agenda, launching such a program proactively, four years ago.
“Responsible Gambling”, the first social responsibility program launched in Romania
“Responsible Gambling” was a first in the gambling market in Romania and, over time, it has been extended nationwide and increased in terms of complexity and services provided by ROMSLOT together with Romanian Bookmakers association.
“Responsible Gambling” provides players with a dedicated website, (www.jocresponsabil.ro), with methods of self-testing and a free telephone line, Tel Verde type, 0800.800.099. Through this number, players or their families have the opportunity to contact a psychologist, receive free counseling on the phone and even schedule two free of charge sessions of evaluation and counseling at one of the doctor’s offices in Bucharest, Cluj and Iași. Moreover, “Responsible Gambling” is the only program in Romania meant to combat gambling problems which offers counseling sessions in the cabinet, and is the only initiative of its kind which provides real help for people who step beyond the line of entertainment or for their families.
The results speak for themselves.
Last year alone, for example, the program’s official website recorded nearly 18.600 unique visitors who accessed informative sections, self-testing or those which offer more details about the project.
The fact that more and more people find out about the program and about the fact that it provides real help, long term, is shown also by the number of callers: 915 during September 2015 – August 2016 timeframe. Of these, 89% were male, aged 25-45 years, who also represent the highest proportion (49%), who live mainly in Bucharest and Ilfov (55% of callers). Next region from which the most callers came from is Ardeal (Transylvania), (with 19% of calls) and Moldova (13%), precisely the geographical areas in which the “Responsible Gambling” has psychological counseling offices.
And if we continue to talk numbers, the results show a trend of increasing accountability, 409 people having made appointments to go to a counseling session at one of the psychological offices involved in the program.
In recognition of the effectiveness of the “Responsible Gambling” program in managing the problems caused by overrunning the limit of entertainment, other industry players also followed our initiative and launched similar programs or created public awareness through articles in media outlets, explaining the need for such programs.
As anyone could see from the data listed above, “Responsible Gambling” remains even now a benchmark for our country and is in continuous development, investing constantly in the latest support tools for players, acting to stimulate operators to adopt responsible behavior and promoting a positive image of the industry.
Events dedicated to social responsibility in the industry have marked the beginning of the 2016 edition of the Entertainment Arena Expo international exhibition
With the purpose to promote responsible behavior and to talk about the importance of social responsibility for business in the gambling sector, ROMSLOT together with the Romanian Bookmakers, organized two events which marked the inauguration of this year’s edition of the most important event in the industry: Entertainment Arena Expo international exhibition.
The first event was dedicated to operators and it was in the form of a seminar. It’s the second edition of “Responsible Gambling”, the social responsibility seminar, which, this year, was organized with the support of the National Office for Gambling.
The event was attended by an international specialist in social responsibility issues, Mr. Helmut Kafka, who spoke about the European perspective on social responsibility and provided an interesting radiography of the European gambling market.
In the case studies presented by Mr. Kafka, he reached another point of interest to the industry, by discussing measures to restrict offline games, which authorities from different countries have taken, in an exaggerated gesture, without having any objective data to justify their actions, just to gain image capital. Moreover, he spoke at length about the problematic situations generated by this type of actions, which, despite the intentions, widened, not diminished, the problems they wished to counteract.
Let’s take, for example, Austria, where the percentage of people with gambling problems (which is low, by the way) remained constant in recent years. Despite this, the authorities there have banned slot machine-type games (which were not related to the problems of gambling, but were most visible and more well known to the public). This led to directing player-enthusiasts or those with gambling problems from different type of offline games (which could have been tracked, and the situation could have been monitored and managed more easily) to online games, which were not prohibited and protected the player’s anonymity. This initiative had, of course, the effect of removing the phenomenon from an area which was observable and easily manageable; to a situation where it did not diminish the number of people who exceeded the fun in the game (the percentage of those with gambling problems remained constant).
In addition, this year’s “Responsible Gambling” seminar was the host of yet another notice of interest for the industry and for the social responsibility activity.
In order to pursue efforts to promote and underline the importance of responsible behavior to sustain the gambling business, ROMSLOT together with Romanian Bookmakers launched an open invitation to all companies in the local gambling to join this project as a “Responsible Gambling” partner and support even more its development, including online.
The second event of interest both for industry and for the media, was represented by a press conference in which results of the latest study on the incidence of gambling in Romania were announced, conducted this summer by market research company GfK Romania, at the request of ROMSLOT and Romanian Bookmakers.
The study was launched to provide a realistic and updated radiography on the reasons for playing in Romania, on the incidence of gambling, on the size of any problematic situation and details of the “portrait” of the Romanian player. All this having the purpose to bring transparency, to dismantle myths about gambling market and to promote an accurate picture of the industry, showing that it is a prominent segment of the entertainment industry and a major player in the local economy.
According to the figures revealed by the study, Romania is at the lower limit of the European average, 0.5-2% of gambling enthusiasts, of the population over 18 years. In our country this indicator is 0.6% of the population over 18 years.
In addition, only 15% of the population over 18 has played at least once in the past year, gambling of all types (lotto, sports betting offline, online games, slot machines, or card games), having as main reasons fun / relaxing, but also gaining money. Compared to local rate, the number of people from other European countries who played during the past years, it was 4 times higher. In Britain, for example, about 13% of the population played the slot machines in 2010.
Playing with rare frequency
25% of Romanian men (over 18 years old) have gambled at least once during the past year.
Women who have tried gambling in the past year are far fewer : 7% of all women over 18 years. Casual gamblers – those who reported engaging in gambling at least once in the last year,- are found in greater numbers in small towns, with up to 30,000 inhabitants (small urban), where the possibilities for fun of any type are scarce.
Players who practice one type of gambling with at least weekly frequency are predominantly young men, unmarried, urban, average education and an average household income of about 2.500 lei. 32% of players who gamble regularly each week are 18 to 24 years old.
Generally, players with a weekly frequency play / bet for fun and to earn money.
Set of ethical principles addressed to the gambling industry, released for the first time in Romania
Another premiere for the local industry, at the event about social responsibility dedicated to operators.
Inspired by the experience gained through the deployment and development of the “Responsible Gambling” project over the years, and due to ethical practices of companies that already support this program, ROMSLOT together with Romanian Bookmakers have outlined a set of ethical principles and responsible conduct, similar to the fundamental principles underlying ethical codes existing in any mature industry.
The set of principles drafted by the two associations was launched to support and with the purpose of adoption by all actors present on the local market and enjoyed positive reactions including from the National Office for Gambling, whose representatives have expressed openness to support it.
The set of principles includes several general directions which should underpin the activity of any company which operates in the field of gambling in Romania:
1. Promote your business as a means of entertainment, not a way to earn money!
2. Allocate human resource to generate and involve the company in actions of social responsibility and customer protection. Provide a budget for it!
3. Train your employees constantly on the latest practices in ensuring that a customer reports responsibly to gambling.
4. Give the customer limited service or related gambling facilities that could encourage excessive game!
5. Tell your customers permanently and bluntly about the dangers of excessive play and how to treat gambling problems.
6. Make sure you identify correctly and on time gamblers with problems!
7. Take action immediately when you identify a player with problems!
8. Cooperate with the family when necessary, to help players with problems more effectively.
9. Make sure that access in the lobby is indeed strictly forbidden to minors!
10. Search for permanent partnership with the authorities and voluntary participation in actions aimed at social responsibility.
ROMSLOT’s support shown towards the initiatives and constant efforts to promote responsible behavior and to its employees enjoy not only the appreciation of local authorities, but also the support of international associations in the field, as is the case of EUROMAT (European Gaming and Amusement Federation): Mirjana Acimovic, president of the Committee for Social Responsibility in Gambling Industry inside EUROMAT:
“As President of the Committee for Social Responsibility in Gambling Industry in EUROMAT, I am in constant contact with specialists who launch CSR initiatives among all member countries. The concern over the issues connected to the social responsibility is getting bigger Europe-wide and important steps are made more often. From what we have seen in recent years, Romania’s activity in the domain of social responsibility in the gambling industry is among the most complex in Europe and is continuously developing. In addition to programs of «social responsibility» already a tradition in this country, I could see that in Romania, it was recently launched a set of ethical principles relating to the “responsible gambling conduct “ and that discussions are taking place about joining efforts in this market to promote ethical and balanced behaviors across local industries. These things can only please us and cause us to affirm that we encourage and support this direction in the future. “