➤ The month of March brought a major change in the Romanian gambling industry by the appointing of the new leadership of the National Gambling Office. So, here you are, together with President Dan Iliovici, have been in charge of the Office for more than two months now. What can you tell us about the maturity stage of the gambling industry at the time of your appointment as ONJN vice president?

Valentin Korman, ONJN Vice President
In what the gambling industry in our country is concerned, especially given the progress of the past few years, at this moment we can only speak in terms of organic development in the right direction, at least from the point of view of the institution I represent.
The adoption in 2016 of the implementing rules for the already stable legislative framework was the turning point that put Romania on the map of the countries whose voice is heard at industry level. Now we have more than 16 licensed operators and 288 second-class licenses. It is a major achievement for our country, all the more so as other major European states with well-established and regulated economies face major challenges in this area. That being said, it goes without saying that ONJN will continue on the line already imposed, but we will, of course, also come up with measures to accelerate this pace of development and consolidation.

➤ Can you tell us more about the measures that the Office is about to implement and the role of the profile associations, such as Rombet, in their implementation?

Valentin Korman, ONJN vice president
One of the Office’s priority objectives is to change the image that the domain has at the social level. Although the gambling industry has a major contribution to the state budget, it is not free from various accusations and even blows, and often becomes a boxing sack, or rather a focus area in both government strategy and in the public opinion. But it is time for the company to lift the veil from the eye to see the field as what it is: an entertainment industry that does not promise players overnight fortune, but only ways to break the daily stress. But here we cannot act on our own. We need the support and experience of profile associations, who know closely most of the stakeholders in the field, who are aware of the problems they face and have direct access to both organizers and service providers and, ultimately, including players. Cooperation is needed if we want to achieve this change of perception.

Dan Ghiță, Rombet president
We have constantly talked about how important cooperation between the Office, the associations and organizers is. Changing the mentality of gambling, in our opinion, can only be achieved in this way. Fortunately, Mr. Dan Iliovici, the president of ONJN, is well aware of our desiderata, as well as of the efforts we have made and constantly submit for their realization. We always stay close to our members, we are aware of the obstacles or problems that they encounter in their work, but we are also a “bridge” in the opposite direction, in the sense of the communication of ONJN with the organizers .This was also easily observed by the presence of the representatives of the institution at the seminars and events that Rombet has organized for over a year and a half in both Bucharest and in the province and where participation was free of charge.
And the support of the Office further motivates us. Our legislative framework is a good one – though needs improvement – but it must be correctly understood and applied in a unitary nature, otherwise there may be slippages with dramatic consequences for the operators’ activity and for the market as a whole, as I personally had the opportunity to see by attending the seminars organized by the specialized associations. This is why measures designed to change the perception of public opinion are not only welcome but also extremely necessary. As long as we try to “grow” a mature, responsible industry, it is natural that the framework in which it operates is, if not a favorable one, at least equidistant.
We know that fighting people’s beliefs and, why not admit it, with the interests of certain political structures is one of the heaviest; but united, with a consensus on the direction and the way forward, we are optimistic that we can get there.

➤ You have used a phrase in your intervention, which has a growing weight in the gambling industry, that of “responsible industry”. We know that this concept of “responsible gambling” is strongly promoted by Rombet through various projects and programs and, at the same time, is also on the list of priorities of the new National Gambling Office leadership team. How do you see the measures meant to educate the industry in the direction of social responsibility?

Dan Ghiță, Rombet president
The programs you refer to, those of responsible gambling, are perhaps the most important means of achieving the goal I was talking about earlier, that of change in perception of the field. And this is a priority not only for us in Romania, but for all the states where on the one hand, the gambling industry enjoys laws regulating activity and, on the other hand, real interest in its development also in the future.
Our representatives participated and constantly attend conferences and seminars dedicated to this topic, such as WrB – Responsible Gambling Innovation, organized in London by our partner, Clarion Events.

Anyhow, this is a recurring theme to most of the events in the field, whether domestic or international.
Just recently, at a Rombet seminar on taxation issues, to which I had the honor to be present, Mr. Dan Iliovici alerted and advised those present to pay due attention to Responsible Gambling. Knowing the importance that the new leadership of the Office grants to this type of action, we have no doubt that we will soon see decisive steps taken in this direction.

Valentin Korman, ONJN vice president

You’re right. As we announced from the first days of the mandate at ONJN, we want the establishment of the public interest foundation as soon as possible and the implicit constitution of the fund that will finance responsible gaming measures and projects. We are aware of the fact that organizers and associations are stepping up their efforts in this direction, and we are committed to being with them and supporting these initiatives, which are not just marketing and promotion techniques, as we sometimes hear about. Looking at the global, macro level, the UK is one of the best examples in this respect, with dedicated RGs – responsible gambling – and programs already functional or in the process of being implemented. Recently, Australia has announced that it is also taking measures, introducing the national self-exclusion register, and banning the option currently available to operators to provide players with credit lines. And the examples can continue. Our intention is to position Romania on the RG map world-wide and to make our country an example of good practice in this regard as well.

➤ In conclusion, what advice would you give to any new operator who is now taking the first steps to expand his business in our country, the more so as the interest seems to be growing, many companies, including world-renowned players, manifesting its desire to enter the Romanian market?

Valentin Korman, ONJN vice president
To prepare for a mature market, for a clear and well-defined licensing path, for a highly competitive both land-based and online environment and to be convinced of the benefits that will come in the way of involvement and their desire to succeed. Any successful business builds itself on a solid foundation which fortunately exists in Romania: the legislative framework which governs the field supports and protects it. You must understand these laws correctly, with the obligations, but also with the rights of each operator and start building from there on. Invest in qualified staff, learn to know what motivates the players who cross your threshold and educate them when you notice that the game is showing tendencies to become one with a negative impact on their lives. We, ONJN, have confidence in the potential that our local market has and in future prospects. We can develop this area provided the dialogue of all involved is honest, fair, transparent and unitary.

Dan Ghiță, president of Rombet

And, I would add, use the experience and the word that our professional associations have in our country and even abroad. Choose to become a member of such an organization. We, Rombet, assure the members of fiscal, accounting, operational support, we make our voice heard at the table of discussions, in terms of law enforcement or drafting laws, through our presence at the most important international events of the industry, we are always connected to news, innovations, progress made by other major players in world gambling. All these are “bricks” that are brought and placed on the solid foundation that Mr. Korman was talking about. A successful business must be built in time with professionalism, patience and commitment. A strong and stable industry needs partners as such …. and vice versa!


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