What did the year 2021 mean? What are your plans for 2022?
Two questions which can define the status of an industry…
What did the year 2021 mean for Romanian Bookmakers?
Liviu Popovici, President of the Romanian Bookmakers: It has been a year with many legislative and fiscal challenges and with an intensification of efforts to obtain support measures aimed at restoring the functioning of this field in parameters closer to normal. A year with quite a lot of unpredictability and sometimes coherence and logic in the measures taken by the authorities, as well as major difficulties in communicating information to economic operators who were obliged to implement it. We focused especially on getting involved in efforts not to protect members, but also to support the state’s efforts to combat the health crisis. In 2021, the gambling industry in Romania produced a nice surprise when the most important companies in the field of gambling were involved, for the first time for the private economic sector, in promoting the state’s anti-Covid vaccination campaign.
We have launched, together with ROMSLOT and ROMBET, a campaign to raise awareness and encourage vaccination, entitled “We play Responsible. We get vaccinated ”, with TV spots, online posts, posters in all gambling locations and, in particular, with substantial financial investments, in order to put our shoulder to the wheel to restart the maximum level of savings engines.
What did the year 2021 mean for AOPJNR?
Cristian Pascu, President of AOPJNR: For AOPJNR the year 2021 had two major concerns that determined actions accordingly:
1) Continue legitimate efforts to obtain fair compensation from the authorities for the reduction of revenue related to the operating restrictions imposed by the sanitary measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19.
Specifically, we refer to the reduction of the capacity to use the from the point of view of the simultaneous access of the players with the percentages of 30% and / or 50% and especially to the negative impact felt due to the limitation of the work schedule, consequently we requested a corresponding reduction of the authorization fee.
Our approach was found by the leadership of the ONJN and even by senior representatives at the level of Secretary of State at the M.F.P. understanding and support, but these positions expressed in the meetings were not enough for them to be discussed at the higher level in the Government in order to materialize in a necessary GEO.
In addition to the detention of decision-makers in terms of budget allocation, there was also an unfavorable political and government blockade in the latter part of the year.
So, a bitter taste in this regard…but when did we get something well deserved for our industry??
Towards the end of the year, faced with this state of affairs, some of our members decided to start in parallel with the legislative regulatory steps, actions in court to obtain in extreme ways, compensation for the damage caused. As a result, we worked at the association level to prepare and recommend a possible option for legal action.
2) Last year, two ONJN Presidential Orders were published – Order 404 and Order 86 with the new constructive and verification technical norms for slot machines – with which AOPJNR expressed its disagreement regarding the insufficient transition period as duration for implementation at the level of the approximately 70,000 existing devices on the market.
We have presented a much more realistic variant of the transitional period, in two stages, after the first stage to authorize initially as new devices introduced into operation only the new type, followed by a second stage of parallel operation of the new type devices that correspond new rules in parallel with those previously authorized, stages that in total approach the 5 year amortization period of appliances already purchased, to give the possibility of sustainable absorption of change both in terms of technical as well as financial.
Unfortunately, I noticed a change of position and a refusal of dialogue of the ONJN management on this very important and sensitive issue that can affect the financial situation and even the existence of most operators who are small and medium level.
Thus, the discussion on this topic did not take place on the basis of arguments, although we started from the generally accepted idea that the new technical norms are necessary and welcome, only that without a judiciously planned implementation deadline proposed by our association and negotiable willingly to find the optimal satisfactory solution for all parties, the advantages will be outweighed by the disadvantages.
We hope that nothing is lost yet, even for slot machine manufacturers in order to have the necessary time to offer a wider range of products corresponding to the new technical norms, a transitional period longer than the 24 months (of which there are already only 18….) would be welcome.
So it is handy at the level of ONJN, by a simple amendment of the Order, to correct what is necessary, to avoid the unwanted continuation of the action in court and in this regard.
We have so many necessary and beneficial things to work on together….
Note: If in point 1), at the level of 2021, the cooperation between all the profile associations continued to achieve the common objectives, in point 2) the cooperation of AOPJNR was exclusively with the association EXPROGAME, which expressed and strongly supported a transition period. extended.
What did the year 2021 mean for the Super Jackpot?
Călin Florea, Super Jackpot General Manager: After 2020 we all said that it couldn’t be worse … we started the year 2021 with most of the locations closed.
In the summer we started to recover a bit, I said ready! … it ended with COVID, but autumn came and we woke up closed again or worse with a program and limited access but with 100% taxes. In addition to all this, the total indifference of the authorities, which, like the previous year, not only did not offer us a way to recover some of our losses, but also found new ways to confuse us or increase our expenses. All the useful changes proposed in the Advisory Council have been forgotten, not the authorization fee paid monthly, not a smoother transition for the application of Order 404, not even a work schedule with the public at the ONJN registry.
What did the year 2021 mean for Game World?
Andrei Frimescu, Game World Marketing Manager: In my opinion the most important achievement is that in the pandemic context of the last two years we managed to keep the trust of customers and Game World team members and this was reflected in all aspects of our activities.
Broadly speaking, 2021 meant a slight recovery in activity, after what happened in 2020, when the restrictions imposed after the onset of the pandemic led to a significant decrease. As a result, in 2021 we, like other operators in the industry, had to move beyond the suspension period and adapt to difficult operating conditions: reduced hours and access restrictions, while strengthening procedures and enforcement measures. health safety for staff and customers.
On the other hand, given the conditions, 2021 has been marked, at least as far as we are concerned, by a series of successes. For example, we are proud to be the first gambling operator to obtain, for all gaming halls under the Game World brand, the international DEKRA Certification Facility for Hygiene and Sanitary Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection.
We also continued the investments in the development of our network of game rooms, inaugurating the second Game World room in Constanța, located inside the VIVO! It is known that Game World City Park Mall Constanța, renovated and reconfigured in 2021, is the largest games room outside Bucharest. Constanța thus becomes the city where we have the largest presence, after Bucharest, in terms of the area of the halls and the number of gaming stations.
Also in 2021, we joined, as main sponsors, the handball club CSM Bucharest, which is probably at this moment the flag bearer of team sports in Romania internationally. In fact, looking back, it can be noticed that we managed to follow our main strategic directions in terms of business and CSR activities. If in the last two years the zero priority of the industry has been business continuity, one thing we are very proud of is that we have managed to materialize the company’s development plans and continue to support a number of important causes for society. On the other hand, in 2021 we continued the development of the online casino and the transition to the implementation of the omni-channel strategy.
What did the year 2021 mean for Smart Games?
Vlad Roman, General Manager of Smart Games: 2021 was again a year of reconfiguration and adaptation to the conditions and requirements of the moment, both in terms of health and marketing or operational strategy.
I learned a lot, especially the fact that not everyone thinks the same, so I had to step back and see the big picture, analyze it, put myself in the shoes of those in front of me before making remarks or accusations. . We managed to homogenize the team and the relationship with our customers and partners.
It hasn’t been an easy year, but I’m glad I ended up making a profit.
What are your plans for 2022?
Liviu Popovici, President of Romanian Bookmakers: We will intensify our efforts so that the future measures adopted by the authorities are adapted to the needs of the market, but, above all, we will not have to go through the uncertainties caused by closing / reopening gambling locations. Sufficient strict sanitary conditions have been established for the development of the activity in this field and in which considerable investment has been made and, to date, there is clearly no causal link between gambling activity and the increase in the number of diseases. We want a treatment commensurate with the real epidemiological risk in the gaming locations for a positive impact on both the players and the employees and investors in this field.
Secondly, we want to contribute intensely to the issuance of normative acts to complete / improve the legislative framework applicable to gambling. I am referring here to the sectoral regulation in the field of preventing and combating money laundering, the technical rules for monitoring systems which should be followed by the elimination of the obligation to use tax cash registers. Another important objective is to review the specific legislation that must take into account the evolution and trends of the gaming market, including from the perspective of responsible gaming.
Cristian Pascu, President of AOPJNR: For 2022, we intend to continue the actions started last year, we hope to be able to respond to the new challenges that the pandemic will have for us with an impact on our sector, and to come at the right time with legislative proposals to improve the activity, beneficial to the three parties involved. operators, state and players.
Finally, an incentive for operators and associations:
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!
Călin Florea, Super Jackpot General Manager: First of all, let’s see what plans the authorities have with us …
We will try to survive as we did last year, it will be difficult without the constructive involvement of the ONJN which in addition to control should coordinate the sector, provide solutions to get through this period or teach us how to apply the regulations of the Committees. for Emergency Situations when they are ambiguous.
I wish you good health and success for 2022.
Happy New Year!
Andrei Frimescu, Game World Marketing Manager: For the time being, our plans depend, at least in terms of operational aspects, on the pandemic context. We hope that the voice of the industry will be heard when decisions are made, and that the authorities will take into account the situation of the more than 40,000 employees in our industry.
Therefore, we follow what is happening; the restrictions announced today (January 5) are not likely to make us happy, but at least it is clear that a new lockdown is not an option at this time.
Our top priority is to maintain our reputation and trust in the Game World brand. The plans for 2022 are primarily about maintaining the quality of services and diversifying offers, for an integrated customer experience in gaming rooms and online, as well as at Stanleybet betting agencies, which are also part of our group of companies.
Beyond that, it is very difficult to make predictions. Business stability is paramount, so the development plan will be adjusted accordingly; it will probably be clearer what we can do and what not in the middle of the year, if wave 5 will signal the entry of the pandemic in the last phase or, on the contrary, we will see the appearance of new variants. What is certain is that for the time being the priorities are focused on stability and continuity.
Vlad Roman, General Manager of Smart Games: It is very difficult to make plans in today’s uncertain situation, we have some stand-by projects that I hope we can implement in 2022, once the COVID situation relaxes.
Of course we will continue our current activities but we will probably focus more on online and IT where there are still opportunities waiting to be discovered.
Happy New Year!
Good health, confidence and accomplishments for 2022!