Suriname, the smallest gambling destination in South America

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-Oana Mihalache

Globalization is not always praised by those who proclaim the importance of economic equity, but it was surely beneficial for industries like gambling, as it allowed access to markets that became new outlets for players around the world, which is possible due to border permeability and free circulation. An example for the latter case is Suriname, the smallest country of the South-American continent. Ex Dutch colony, the country gained its independence in 1975. Even though it’s a small state, Suriname is an amazing destination given that the indigenous population struggled to maintain cultural patterns unaltered by colonialists, but also due to the ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity.

The diversity is not of little importance when it comes to gambling. In the capital city of the country there are four casinos, but illegal activities are also present. Poker is highly popular among players in the country, but also among tourists visiting the country, as poker tour ar organized regularly.

Gambling is legal and the industry is well regulated in Suriname, even though illegal activities have not been totally dismantled. The government starting to issue operating licenses for casinos in 1996, and in a few years there were already nine casinos in the country. Not all of them survived, as now there are four major gambling destinations in the country, because shortly after the industry started to expand, the government launched an offensive against corruption and money landuering activities in the industry, initiated in 2004. Apart from casinos, players also have access to lotteries and sports betting halls, which are run by Suribet, a subsidiary of Superbet, a company that also operates in countries like Uganda, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.

Casinos were mainly built in the capital and the largest city of the country – Paramaribo (where around half the population lives) and the most renowned casino there was The Palace Casino, which had 161 slot machines, 10 table games, and among the games available were Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, and Roulette. This casino was closed in 2005, after the tough governmental regulations were issued in order to have a “cleaner” regulation of the industry. The natural development of gambling was going ahead the economy and players’ wellbeing, so a king of “governmental Darwinism” appeared – only casinos that passed the legality test continued to operate.

Even if almost all casinos were built with foreign capital, they are still now a source of income for the population, with a total of 2.000 employees working in them. Regarding the population’s access inside the casinos, it now became a fact, but at a certain moment their access was conditioned by bringing a tourist in – even though the proposal did not become in fact law.

Apart from games, those who choose this small country as a gambling destination can also spoil themselves with fine drinks, night clubs, they have access to bars and free parking. The biggest casino in the country is Princess Hotel & Casino, which has 15 table games, 2 poker tables and 320 slot and video poker machines. This is only one of the casino attractions, another one being The Torarica Hotel Casino and the other casinos in the country are Hotel Ambassador & Casino and The Golden Truly Hotel & Casino.

As a small country, with only 560.000 inhabitants, Suriname has an economy that surpasses the medium incomes in the region, with a GDP per capita of $15.000 per year. As the country prospered, inhabitants developed a growing propensity for gaming. There is one game that is particularly popular in the country: poker, but the most wide-spread form is the one available in casinos, Carribean Stud Poker, even if many players prefer to play among themselves and not against the house, which is why they choose Texas Holdem or Omaha, which allow this playing formula. Poker can also be played in illegal spaces, which are apparently ignored by the government, tacitly allowing for their illicit activities to run.

Even if it’s an extremely small country, Suriname is an example of endurance in front of illegal practices and economic tenacity. If at the beginning of the 2000, the casinos were mainly considered a form of escapism for the population whose medium income was $150, now the industry developed according to the demand existing on the market and it became a destination both for them and for tourists – casinos were reduced in number, but altogether illegal activities that took place inside or near them have been reduced, such as drug dealers transactions. Well, this was not an easy road to take, and Casino Inside recommends this destination to those who ae curious to see a former Dutch colony in all its cultural and ethnic diversity and how it adapted to globalization, while keeping its indigenous specificities.

(Română) Membrii Romslot și-au dat întâlnire la ICE Totally Gaming Londra, expoziția care dă tonul tendințelor din industria europeană a jocurilor de noroc

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The gambling industry in Bulgaria, healthy growth in 2016 under the motto „Less sanctions more taxes”

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-Oana Mihalache

In a tech world that is advancing by the day and in a social realm with a crescent propensity for virtual, gambling markets that are relatively modest in terms of development level, such as the Bulgarian one, are obliged to keep pace in order to survive in the first place and secondly in order to be competitive. A report that surprises in detail the evolution of the Bulgarian gambling industry in 2016 shows that stability, growth, technological adaptation are the three key concepts that have defined this market, while also highlighting the responsibility actions taken on behalf of industry representatives – through programs like Socially Responsible Behavior. Casino Inside will present the most important information about the gambling market of our neighbors from the South.

As we already mentioned, in the year that just ended, the gambling market in Bulgaria was relatively stable and registered growth, which was possible due to a predictable legislative framework. The laws in the field were modified in 2012, a year that can be considered a benchmark for the Bulgarian gambling: the industry became more stable, which also reflected in the tax revenues for the budget. According to the Chairman of the State Commission on Gambling, Ognemir Mitev, revenue collection increased by 40 million lev compared to 2015, with online gambling being the fastest developing segment – which was also possible due to the motto that was adopted at a public administrative level “Less sanctions more taxes”. The areas with the most substantial growth were the lottery, sports betting and remote gambling.

Another factor that contributed to the growth of the industry was the development of gambling tourism. First and foremost, we have to mention that in 2016 Bulgaria received 8 million tourists in total, more than the total population of the country comprising 7.1 million inhabitants. A part of these tourists also visited at least one of the 27 casinos now operating in the country, with two added since 2015. The majority of them are in the capital city of Sofia, but also in Plovdiv, in seaside resorts or close to borders with neighboring countries. An example is Svilengrad, a city in which gambling developed given its proximity with Turkey, the facilities being dedicated to players coming from Turkey. Then, we shall not omit the fact that Bulgaria is also a poker destination, given the fact that is hosts many European poker tournaments. The fact that many important players come to play in the country on an annual basis led to the growth in standards visible in the hospitality industry, which adopted more high-quality services. If we consider only what operators offer, the Chairman of the Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Operators in the Gaming Industry, Angel Iribozov, has a simple explanation: “High Quality services offered in the casinos in Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia and Romania are raising the level for local organizers”, he argues.

Of course, certain forms of gaming have been more privileged than others, and the „soft gambling” segment – including lottery, have had a much faster growth. Accordingly, 40% of the population has been involved in some form of soft gambling, which is also due to the fact that they do not necessarily associate it with gambling. Another sector that excelled in 2016 was that dedicated to gaming equipment manufacturers, software developers – programmers, designers, engineers and mathematicians from Bulgaria being now appreciated all across Europe. Last year, manufacturers of gaming equipment, game and online apps developers, as well as platform providers for online gambling were ranked among the top 5 in Europe and among top 10 in the world. This only shows that the industry is export oriented –regarding both products and services. As far as online gambling is concerned, Bulgaria has the full potential of becoming a leader in Central and Eastern Europe, due to the fact that regulations are proper for development. There are currently 11 online gambling operators in Bulgaria, including some that are internationally renowned, such as Pokerstars.bg or Betfair.com.

One of the operators that managed to shine in 2016 was Bulgarian Sports Totalizator (BST), that offers digit lottery games. This lottery reported incomes totaling 136 million lev for the financial year 2015. In the most popular of these lottery games that belong to BST, precisely Toto 2-6 from 49, a starting Jackpot of 1 million lev was added. In 2015, five players managed to win Jackpots of more than 1 million lev on this game.

In the middle of this developing storm – both horizontally and vertically – of the gaming industry, operators in Bulgaria managed to not ignore a trend that is getting more and more recognition globally, namely the attention given to socially responsible gaming. In fact, modification brought to the legal framework in order to allow measures leading to responsible gaming were enacted in the Gambling Act in 2014 – according to which organizers in the field are obliged to make money contributions that are directed towards activities meant to stop gaming addiction, but also the phenomenon of pathological issues regarding gaming. In 2016, the funds dedicated to responsible gaming reached 2 million lev, with priority given to young people’s issues and treatments for curing gaming addiction. One of the main projects of this type is called “Responsible Gaming” and it mainly consists of a continuous campaign dedicated to information sharing, which in 2016 managed to release a report concerning gaming behavior among Bulgarians: 43% of them condemn gambling activities, while 44% of them regularly participate in various forms of gambling. One of this program’s initiatives was the creation of an online information portal with a mobile version that allows Bulgarians to find our any kind of information regarding gaming addiction.

As we have seen, the gambling industry in Bulgaria is truly on an ascending path, but is in the meantime based on a healthy growth: the legislation is coherent, well-articulated, tax collecting is a priority – which leads to better regulation from inside the field, the proper care for consumers in not missing, on the contrary. Well, all these coordinated of the Bulgarian gambling industry seem to be the recipe for success, but Casino Inside will bring, starting with the next edition, even more important details that explain how Bulgaria was located on the global map of gambling.

(Română) „Înainte de toate, operatorii sunt cei care trebuie să joace responsabil”

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(Română) DECLARAȚIE DE PRESĂ S.C. INTERGAMES SRL

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Italian Gambling Market doubled his size in over 5 years

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By Marco F. Baranzelli

-TRU Consulting Partner-

In a study  published in 2008, we forecast that the Italian gambling market would double in size over 5 years. This forecast has been confirmed by facts: the market has grown from €42 billion in 2007 to €89 billion in 2015.

The importance of facts to which, all too often, no attention is given, with preference going to a load of resounding opinions and announcements, the truthfulness of which cannot be determined in any way.

A burgeoning growth that of gambling which has gone against the current and not felt at all the effects of the crisis, and in fact showed its maximum strength during one of the most critical periods for the Italian economy, brushing aside the whiny sample range of excuses put forward by the odd operator to mask negative corporate performances.
And now that the “crisis” is starting to loosen its grip, what are the market prospects?

Trend. In the 2006-2015 period, when the “crisis” was in full swing, the gambling market grew by 147% touching 89 billion euro.

A market which in the 2006-2015 period surged despite a biting crisis that overwhelmed fragile economies such as that of Italy, structurally weak and fragmented, with very few products of excellence, and based on market niches kept alive by very few “one man show” entrepreneurs, who alone support a compromised Country system, with a truly embarrassing managerial/entrepreneurial class.

VLT, electronic appliances and online. In the 2006-2015 period, the number of VLT and slot machines grew by 217% and today these are worth €49 billion: this is the best-performing segment thanks to “distributed” locations, format&layout quick&easy access and an effective product.
Also undergoing strong growth is online, which in 2015 reached about €15 billion, benefitting from its duel function (i.e. distribution channel and new games disseminator) and entry barriers (i.e. platforms, affiliations, aggressive promotions) which will provide it with years of growth to come.
An in any case difficult sector which the odd historical sector operator, putting down its lack or results to the absence of “online” in its pipeline, had superficially thought might be the cure for all maladies, kidding himself that he could become an improvised remote gaming operator to reverse the course of the negative performances displayed.

A sudden reawakening from a dream; you cannot improvise yourself something you are not…
Offelee fa el to mestee…

Sporting bets, lotto, lotteries and bingo. In the 2006-2015 period, both lotteries and sports bets grew two-fold (the former from 4 to about €9 billion and the latter from 2.6 to €5.7 billion), thanks to a broad range of products which also proved successful among young people.
Lotto, numerical totalizer games and bingo shrank slightly (i.e. niche market segments for a traditional customer base with ritual consumer procedures).

The only sector to do badly was horse racing (i.e. not always rational race programming, outdated product, fruition procedures far from current consumer motivations).

The prospects. Customer loyalty will have to focus on the “average” gambler profile; someone who is assiduous, frequently bets small amounts, aims at winning high jackpots and, by virtue of the small bets, does not expect to win often.
New business opportunities and a growing market, instead, will necessarily have to pass through the social networks, social games, mobile gaming and smart apps.

On the basis of the trend of recent years, over the next 3 years, the market can be expected to touch €93 billion, with steady state for lotteries, lotto and bingo, slight growth for vlt and slot machines, steeper growth for sports bets and online (i.e. virtual betting/betting exchange) and affirmation of mobile gaming.

Regulatory measures. The increase in tax levies will not have any decisive impact on industry growth, but will require operators to be more efficient in order to offset profit erosion.
The regulatory measures will not have any strong impact on market growth either; this in fact still has ample margins for improvement and can withstand any heavy structural changes.

Finally, we should just like to remind you that restrictive and prohibitionist measures favour the development of “black and grey underground markets”, underground markets which are not regulated. To effectively combat money laundering and pathological gambling, laws are required that rather than prohibit, focus on prevention. Prevention which, in all aspects of Italian society, is more or less absent….

Do not therefore expect any reform of the sector. The “operator” lacks the skills and the ability to remove primordial mildew, lichens and scale. And if ever any sort of “reform” were to come, we would have to make use of the Neapolitan  “confusion” to describe it…

“And yet it moves”. And the casinos? Out of scope, as usual?
Perhaps not. Signs of reawakening have recently appeared: the casino of Saint Vincent, with latest information on hand, appears to have benefitted substantially from the “change in Direction”, achieving a series of very positive results (i.e. earnings: +7.85% in August, +14.96% in September, +27.85% in October and +29.28% in November).

Venice too, in November (2015), i.e., the holiday month of the General Management, enjoyed a growth in earnings. And this too appears to be no accident.

(Română) A.O.P.J.N.R. se implică în stabilirea poziției cât mai unitare a membrilor săi și a întregii industrii de slot-machine în legătură cu elaborarea normelor aferente sistemelor de monitorizare

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EGT Super Premier and P-42V St & Up Curved makes Romanian debut at Winbet

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EGT slot machines have once again been chosen by operator Winbet, having made new installations in their gaming halls in Basarabia and Mosilor locations.

The installation marks the actual debut of Super Premier and Curved Series in Romania, with Super Premier winning last year “Most appreciated slot machine of 2016” award.

Now the guests of Winbet Basarabia and Winbet Mosilor can enjoy the recently supplied Euro Games Technology slot machines that are some of the newest of the 2016 EGT launches. Newly delivered at Winbet Basarabia and Winbet Mosilor include P27/27 Slim St and P27/32 H with gaming libraries Orange Collection and Green Collection from the new generation of games: Collection Series.

Winbet also introduced Super Premier and P-42V Curved St and P-42V Up (with Green and Orange Collection multigame mixes) that became the centerpiece of the gaming halls. Marius Murăraşu – Marketing Manager at Winbet declared: “The impact on the players was tremendous, with them taking an instant liking to the new Curved and Super Premier slot machines. Besides the comfort of the chairs, the fresh design and enticing games, players loved new functions of the Orange and Green Collections. Even at first hours after installation, our guest did not hesitate to try their luck at the new slot machines and actually… lines were formed to check out the new cabinets and games.”

With the installation of 4 cabinets Super Premier, 18 models P-42V, 9 cabinets P27/27 Slim St, and several P27/32H, EGT records the debut of the latest generation of models on the Romanian market. This new installment is the logical step after the success of the more than 80 previously provided EGT slot machines that included the well renowned P-24/24, and the P24/32V that houses the successful Egypt Quest and Diamond Life jackpots.

Winbet highlighted that the impeccable quality of the gaming equipment and the high level of design and performance of interface had been at the core of the fruitful relationship with Euro Games Technology Romania and that the expected results are even higher now, with the latest technologies and next generation games into place.

More informations on www.egt-bg.ro

Collection Series in Romania – now with type approval

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On Romanian market, Orange Collection and Green Collection now have type approval, with Fruits Collection following soon, so you can start order your multi-game collection right now!

Orange Collection and Green Collection are practically, each, compilations of 48 of the most popular EGT titles that players can enjoy on various cabinets, from the all-too-known EGT cabinets already on the market (including P-24/24 Up and previous series) to the newly launched P-27/27 St and P-27/27 St Slim, P-27/32H St, the P-42V Up Curved and P-42V St Curved with their arched displays that give more space for the graphics of the games, and also on the Super Premier cabinets with their cutting-edge technology and futuristic design!

Players can enjoy all titles in Romanian local market as Collection Series are soon to be present in all of the locations with EGT cabinets.

Coming Soon: type approval for multiplayer Rigel II

We, at EGT Romania, are working hard at obtaining homologation for multiplayer game mix Rigel II that will offer a spectacular 40 different video slot titles. The multigame mix will be available shortly for all our clients to order and also to update from previous Rigel versions on Premier roulette with 8 gaming places and also on Vega R4, R6 and R8 with their respective 4, 6 and 8 gaming places.

This way your customers can enjoy an even vaster array of roulette and video slot games, specially designed to meet the different preferences of the customers. The selection of titles will for sure entertain your players to the max.

We will keep you updated with new information on type approvals on website www.egt-bg.ro.

Rombet Association, about successes in 2016 and projects for 2017

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The Romanian gambling industry underwent deep changes in 2016. Fine-tuning of the legislative package by adoption of the secondary regulations (that is, the application rules of the law), and all the shifts this industry experienced afterwards, have all been steps taken forward, aimed at rendering this industry more powerful, transparent and independent. And Rombet Association has always been involved and increasingly active in representing the interests of its members. Trainings, projects and programmes, large-scale international events and workshops the members of the association were invited to attend as speakers, are the highlights of an year packed with positive results for Rombet.

 “2016 shed light on the major shifts the industry has undergone over the past years. The important players of the industry understood that, while we are provided with a good legislative package, unity should be one of the key coordinates of any endeavor if we aim to progress. In witness of this growing-up, an important number of members, both from the country and abroad, decided to join our association last year, and thus place their trust in us to represent their interests before the National Gambling Office and not only”, declared Mr. Dan Alexandru Ghiță, President of Rombet.

The Association has constantly and unequivocally urged the industry to stay together, so as to turn the transparency, unity and independence goals into reliable strategies to underpin the progress of gambling in Romania. But, as any strategy comes along with an implementation plan, in 2016 Rombet has stepped up its involvement in various efforts and activities.

The 2016, the Rombet workshop “roadshow” stopped in many cities of the country.  The representatives of the association were seen in Iași, Cluj, Oradea and Bucharest, trying to clarify any ambiguities that are liable to impair the correct application of the legislation into force. “The interest was high, and attendance of our events exceeded our expectations. It is thus clear that accurate information needs to be exchanged, and the expert voices should take a step forward and answer the questions that, looking back at the experience of the year now ended, will not be few”, commented the Vice-President of Rombet, Mr. Anchidim Zăgrean, who added that: “It was a good year, when the first permanent licenses and permits were issued to online gambling operators, not to mention the 2nd class licenses for gambling-related activities. We have a legal framework considered an example of good practice by many European states, but, in our opinion, there is still room for improvement”.

Rombet promises that in 2017, the workshops will be resumed and taken to other cities in the country, building on the success our events enjoyed last year. Furthermore, the representatives of the association have already announced that they are working on a set of improvement proposals for some legislative provisions, fed by the feedback Rombet members submitted in respect of the implementation of the package of laws in effect. “As we have repeatedly said it already, ROMBET is a supporter and promoter of the interests of its members, and membership of the association is a guarantee for the support, legal, tax and accounting advice they can expect to receive. We are closely monitoring the meetings of the Parliamentary commissions that debate projects with impact on the gambling industry, we take active part in all the meetings of the Advisory Board attached to the National Gambling Office, and we aim to remain equal partners in the dialogue with the authorities with gambling responsibilities, thus helping the on-going improvement of the legislation and, consequently, the development of our industry”, added Mr. Dan Alexandru Ghiță, President of Rombet.

But the positive image the gambling industry is building right now has been decisively driven also by the focus placed by this industry on staying in touch with the latest legislative developments, the business trends and opportunities, or the innovative responsible gambling project ideas. Thus, Rombet was an ambassador of Romania in the major gambling events organized across Europe, and often took the floor to speak to the audience of what makes our country that example of good practice the neighboring countries and not only look up to. Rombet representatives were in London, attending ICE Totally Gaming, the largest European event of the industry, then they participated in EGR Online Gambling Briefing – Eastern Europe (Prague), World Regulatory Briefing – Responsible Gambling Innovation (London), World Regulatory Briefing Eastern Europe (Warsaw), and the Eastern European Gaming Summit (Sofia).

“We take pride in the fact that last year we managed to advance the opening of the Romanian market to large foreign investors, that were thus able to direct their attention towards our country. We will continue to pursue this approach in 2017, too. As early as February we are in London to participate in ICE Totally Gaming, to continue this tradition of Rombet. In March we will be seen in Vienna International Gaming, and will be support, this year as a media partner, two important conferences organized by SBC Event in London, namely “Betting on Football” in May, and “Betting on Sports” in September”, added Mr. Dan Iliovici, First Vice-President of Rombet.

Internally, the association further aims to continue its involvement in Responsible Gambling projects, as it has done before, social responsibility being an essential strategic direction in Rombet. “We want to take active and direct part in the establishment and, in particular, in the operation of the future Foundation for Socially Responsible Gambling. The expertise and knowledge we have acquired so far, the partnerships we have concluded and the good reputation our association enjoys abroad will definitely be assets the Foundation would be able to rely on in the implementation of the future Responsible Gambling projects”, also said the First Vice-President of Rombet.

“What are the goals of the association in 2017? To take further and improve the projects and programmes of 2016, so that the important progress of last year would be continued at a high and constant pace in the year that has just started, too. Gambling development in our country is a challenge, but one that Rombet is willing to happily uptake, obviously always having in mind the interests of our members which are, in fact, the interests of the entire Romanian gambling industry”, concluded Dan Alexandru Ghiță, President of Rombet.