GDPR non industry specific regulation

GDPR

After lengthy discussions, the EU Data Protection Regulation was adopted by the European Parliament on April 14, 2016 and

it entered into force on May 25, 2016 (GDPR). However, the benchmark date, the one that gives a headache to any industry and to any company processing personal data is May 25, 2018, less than 3 weeks from now, the date on which this regulation becomes applicable.

But what does personal data and personal data processing mean and why should it preoccupy us starting with May 25, 2018 more than today?

Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.

Personal data processing means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction

The field was previously regulated under the 1995 Data Protection Directive, implemented in the Romanian legislation by Law 677/2001. Different from the old European directive, the GDPR is much bulkier, with 99 articles as opposed to 34 articles in the old directive, in addition to the 173 recitals in the preamble and, given its legal nature – that of a European regulation – it no longer has to be implemented by national legislation like the old instrument – the Directive -, having a direct effect in the territory of each EU Member State.

GDPR’s goal was to modernize and harmonize data protection across the EU. However, it remains problematic to what extent this goal has been reached, given that there are almost 50 open points in which Member States are left to detail, supplement, if not amend (to a certain extent) the provisions of the GDPR. It is thus assumed that the application of this legal regime will continue to vary from one Member State to the other. In this respect, the draft law on implementing measures for the GDPR is currently in the Chamber of Deputies for approval by parliamentary committees. From the information published on the Chamber of Deputies’ webpage, it results that, until now, the debates within the committees have not yet been finalized. The date on which the constitutional term for the debate and final vote would be reached would be June 26, 2018. Although, according to the GDPR, Member States are required to notify the European Commission regarding the norms adopted for the implementation of Regulation 679/2016 until May 25, 2018, the draft law might not be approved and published until that date.

GDPR

GDPR

GDPR maintains the general principles set out in the 1995 directive, but also includes a multitude of substantial amendments which in turn lead to the need for a complex re-evaluation of all the activities involving the use of personal data. In the following paragraphs we do not want to review all these changes since, given the volume of this regulation, we would probably take up the entire current edition of the magazine, but we will try to mention those changes that we considered to have a major impact.

Thus, the most important of all is the substantial rise in the level of sanctions. Substantial though is a very mild word, given that where the fine under Law 677/2001 is up to RON 50,000, under GDPR, supervisory authorities can apply fines of up to 4% of the total worldwide turnover corresponding to the previous financial year (which in the case of companies operating on several markets becomes even more burdensome) or up to EUR 20 million, taking into account the highest value.

GDPR’s application has been extended beyond the EU, which is one of the fundamental legal changes. Thus, if the application of the old directive was linked, in general, to the operator’s jurisdiction (for nuances, see CJEU case law in Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzales – ECJ C-131/12), the new GDPR clearly specifies that it applies to all data processors and controllers that offer goods or services to individuals in one or more EU Member States, irrespective of the place of residence of the controller or processor, even if they are established outside the EU.

If, under the 1995 Directive, the responsibility for data processing was solely for data controllers, under the GDPR, depending on the way data is managed, respectively who is the one who really controls its manipulation, liability can also be borne by the person empowered to process data – the processor, the risk being thus divided.

Based on the GDPR, there is an obligation to appoint a Data Protection Officer (“DPO”). In particular, the DPO will have the role of informing and advising the employees of the controller or of the personal data processor for whom they work, of their obligations in this area and, at the same time, the DPO will also monitor compliance with GDPR provisions and national legislation in the field.

With regard to data security, under the 1995 Directive there was a need to implement technical and organizational measures to ensure an adequate level of security, while the GDPR now comes and establishes the obligation to demonstrate compliance with security requirements and thus makes reference to Internal codes of conduct and certification. And security requirements are expanding, to include data availability, as opposed to the present when there were talks only about the confidentiality of data.

The GDPR establishes the obligation to notify the supervisory authority, namely, in Romania, the authority with a long name – the National Authority for Personal Data Surveillance and Protection („ANSPDCP”) in the case of personal data breach, no later than 72 hours from the date the operator became aware of it. If the notification could not be made within 72 hours, it must be accompanied by reasoned explanations regarding the delay. Furthermore, the affected persons should be immediately informed if the incident can lead to significant risks for them.

Last but not least, the new rights granted to individuals under the GDPR, such as the right to data portability and the right to request restriction of processing can have a significant impact on an operational plan, operators’ systems having to be reconfigured to allow compliance with those rights.

In the past, the legislation on personal data protection was unpopular for many gambling operators and for their contractual partners and it was not necessarily explicitly or extensively considered. In the future, however, especially in the online domain, minimizing the relevance of compliance in this area may prove to be very expensive. The above only attempts to shed glimpses of a legislation that is a real turning point, yet sufficient to show that it is crucial for gambling operators to revise and adapt their systems urgently to the new legal regime.

Place your bets lawfully!

American Virgin Islands or the American Dream in the Caribbean

by Paul Dan

 

Where worries disappear, where the infinite blue of the sky is melts into the blue of the sea, completed by the light sand ground by the mill of time and filled with the green of the warmth of palm trees, dreams come true.   Spread unevenly to the east and south of Puerto Rico and in the vicinity of British sister nations, the American Virgin Islands are not just an alternative to the luxurious Bahamas, but a holiday idea. Exoticism and history come packed at a low price because it is a free trade area. Gamblers are not forgotten and are confident that any cent played is only left to the mercy of destiny.

 

The American Virgin Islands are a state of several islands located in the Caribbean Sea and are a territory of the United States of America. In the past, they were called the Danish West Indies and were part of the Kingdom of Denmark and Norway, but these islands were sold to the United States in 1917 by the Treaty of the Danish West Indies for the sum of 25 million dollars. It was not until 1927 that the inhabitants of these islands were given American citizenship. Currently, they are classified by the United Nations as non-autonomous territory and are officially an organized but unconstitutional territory of the US with a population of nearly 105,000.

 

On the territory of the American Virgin Islands, gambling is legal, except for sports betting. Casinos and other places where gambling is organized must comply with the “Virgin Islands Casino and Resort Control Act”, established in 1995.  This establishes the standards for issuing permits. At the same time, the law established, under the leadership of the General Prosecutor, the “Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE)” as an “armed arm” of control and investigation of the “Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission”.

 

An iron arm that controls the entire industry

 

Under the law, DGE investigates each applicant’s qualification before being licensed, from casino owners, managers and employees as well as related industries, including owners and key employees, to determine the licensing capacity, based on integrity, honesty and character. It reports everything to the Control Commission that grants the license or not.

 

The DGE is responsible for the enforcement of laws and regulations in relation to accounting and internal controls, gambling rules, gambling equipment, employers’ complaints, security and oversight, as well as other issues related to daily casino operations. The Division is called upon to investigate any circumstances, acts or transactions for which the approval of the Control Commission is required. DGE is also required to investigate any violation of law or rules and regulations, initiate and prosecute or defend these proceedings before the Control Commission or the Courts of the Virgin Islands.

At the request of the Control Commission, the DGE carries out audits of casino operations, including the issuance of opinions on accounting, administrative and financial records, as well as the systems, procedures and control records used by a licensed casino.

 

Before any gaming equipment has the permission to be installed in a casino, it must be checked by the DGE, which has to determine whether it meets the standards required by the Control Commission. In addition, DGE is called to verify any winning jackpot of $ 25,000 or more before this win is paid to the player.

 

Legal online gambling, but unlicensed

 

Online gambling is also legal, even if the licensing of companies is still yet to come. The American Virgin Islands were one of the first states in the US to introduce a bill to legalize online gambling in 2001. However, the legislation has remained latent for more than a decade as a result of a 2004 letter from State Attorney General David Nissman. The legalization of online betting in the states of the US as well as in unconstituted territories could be decided by the Department of Justice. In 2013, the American Virgin Islands Casinos Control Commission requested the opinion of the then US Attorney General Vincent Frazer who ruled that there is no violation of the law if the Virgin Islands make online gambling legal. However, even at this date, the law of online gambling stagnates because of the problems the Control Commission has with its master service providers. Master service providers are organizations with exclusive service rights and licensees to conduct online gambling approved on their territory.

 

St. Croix, Casino Island

 

The state of the American Virgin Islands is divided into states and cities. There are two states with gambling facilities with a total of five such locations. There are also live casinos and gaming halls (arcades). On the St. Croix is the town of Christiansted, where four gaming venues can be found, totaling 17 playing tables, 436 slot machines and video poker machines.

 

Here’s a brief introduction to these locations:

 

Casino at Hotel Caravelle

 

Hotel Caravelle was reopened after renovation, and in February 2016 it received from the Casino Control Commission the approval to open a casino of 1,000 square meters where there are between 50 and 75 slot machines in a banquet hall. The hotel is in the center of Christiansted and currently offers 53 air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant, a bar / lounge and an outdoor pool.

Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino

 

Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino is located in Christiansted Bay and offers Vegas style games in a tropical setting. The resort is all-inclusive and features a 5-star hotel with 180 rooms and 20 villas, three dining venues, white and fine sandy beaches, two swimming pools and a new spa. It is the largest casino in the whole country, has 17 playing tables, two poker tables and 360 slot machines and video poker machines.

 

The Parrot Club

 

The Parrot Club is just a gaming room on the beach near the ferry dock in Cruz Bay on St. John Island. This room offers a variety of electronic casino games, slot machines, video poker, keno video, electronic blackjack, and multiple electronic roulettes. Every Tuesday, it is Ladies’ Night and Martini is served for only 5 dollars.

 

Two other casino-resorts can be found on the island of Saint Croix: Seven Hills Resort & Casino and St. Croix Golf Resort & Casino.

 

Tiger Palace Resort – The place were luck is on top

By Paul Dan

You say Nepal and your thoughts wander straight to the Himalaya Mountains, to the grand Everest peak, but also the birth place of Buddha. You also automatically think that the small state is wedged as if in pliers between two of the world’s greatest powers, China and India! If we have succeeded in making many infer great travel opportunities or have provoked them to lecture and history, other have seen here a giant business opportunity. And what could be more tempting in Asia, the one with gambling running through its veins, than a casino.

 

With over one billion Indians a short distance away, a resort with a spa, giant event halls and a complete casino, from all points of view, the Tiger Palace Resort seems to have only one option, that of winning. The Indian gambling market alone is estimated at over 10 billion per year, and that of weddings and festive events increases up to over USD 40 billion.

 

Tiger Palace Resort is the newest casino-resort in the world, a result of a USD 40 million investment on behalf of the Silver Heritage Group company, headquartered in Hong Kong and listed on the Australian Exchange. The resort opened its doors in the middle of March, being strategically placed only 12 km from the Indian border, a country with a huge population and many wealthy people (millionaires, but also a rich middle class) where gambling is prohibited by law, with the exception of two states, Goa and Sikkim. Being a company listed on the exchange, Silver Heritage, which also holds casinos in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Nepal, in the Kathmandu capital, announced on December 21st, 2017, that it had obtained the license fromthe authorities in Nepal which regulates the activity of casinos, after having paid in the local currency the amount equivalent to USD 194,000 as to obtain the license and a royalty commission of USD 291,000.

 

Pure gold won at the opening

 

The Bollywood star Poonam Pandez, as well as dancing teams from Thailand and the Ukraine were the stars of the two days of festivities held for the casino-resort’s opening. The greatest inauguration moment was when the winners of the grand prize of, in total, 750 grams of pure gold were announced. In order to win this grand prize, out of curiosity or just to gamble in the new casino, the resort was over-booked, announced the Silver Heritage leadership at that time.

 

Located at the periphery of Bhairahawa city, in a natural park overseeing an ancient temple, the five star resort has 100 rooms, two luxury villas, three restaurants, one of which has a Swiss buffet. International specialties are served, from those specific to Asia and India to those specific to Europe. There are also three bars, one located by the pool, a spa center with a gym, opened 24 hours a day, with yoga and zumba professors, as well as conference halls. The pool is of semi-Olympics size (25m in length) and both family areas – with water slides and shallow pools for the safety of small children, and areas destined for those wishing to reach performance.

 

The Tiger Palace Resort Casino clients will have where to choose from when it comes to gambling. In order to ease their choice-making, the surface measuring almost 13,000 square meters was divided into three distinct areas for players. No less than 52 gambling tables and almost 200 slot machines are located on the casino’s main floor. Alongside the Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Poker, Three Card Poker and Stud Poker, gamblers can bet on Flush and Teen Patti, one of the most sought after card games in India. Those interested in sports haven’t been forgotten, a special area being reserved just for them. The casino also offers a stage were live concerts are held, and a bar, as well.

 

The clients who play large amounts, are treated as kings and queens. Two steps away from the main casino hall, there is a VIP area, with separate entry. Besides the gambling tables, two dining salons are made available, thus, they can play, have diner and drink fine drinks without needing to move. At Tiger Casino, there is a standard above that of VIP. The gamblers who play the maximum approved threshold have a bar just for them, with free drinks and snacks, both buffet and a-la-carte.

 

When it will function at full capacity, the resort shall benefit from a casino, an event hall seating 500, a show hall, restaurant, and the maximum accommodation capacity shall reach 400. The company announced that it already plans to build other casinos on the length of the Indian Border. In total, the three Silver Heritage Group casinos shall have 200 gambling tables and 1,000 slot machines.

 

Cross-border… investment

 

The success of the casino–resort seems to be guaranteed. The roads, on both sides of the Indian border, have been remade, and the Bhairahawa airport has been modernized and has received the title of international airport. You know, for no other reason than that travel agencies in New Delhi claim that once an Indian boards plane, he can make even to Macao, Asia’s gambling paradise.

 

Simultaneously, the resort’s management must find ways to persuade Indian residence that there won’t find anywhere else a more attractive location in which they can hold their wedding parties and festivities. Proof of organizational ability was made by the employees of the Tiger Resort’ salon, last months, when a business man from Nepal had 913 guests. Concurrently, in January, on India’s National Day, 660 people chose to celebrate it here, of which 120 had reserved hotel rooms.

 

The Bhairahawa is close to two UNESCO heritage sites, Lumbini city, the birth place of Buddha and the Chitwan National Park.

Angela Leong, a different kind of Cinderella

We go back to Asia to find out some interesting facts about the fourth “wife” of Stanley Ho, the great casino mogul. Angela Leong On Kei is the full name of one of the top people in the global gambling industry. She is the managing director of SJM Holdings, one of the six companies licensed to operate casinos in Macau.  The stock-listed company has 19 casinos, around 1,600 game tables and more than 2,700 slot machines. It also owns various properties in Macau, Hong Kong, Australia and Mainland China.

Who is Angela Leong?

She was born in Guangzhou, and her family roots are in Sanshui, Guangdong. She met Stanley Ho in 1986, and the age difference between the two is 40 years; at the time, she worked as a cash desk officer at Casino Lisboa and supplemented her income by teaching dance and ballet classes to children. As for meeting Stanley Ho, she says everyone knew who he was, but she was not impressed by his money. Stanley had his youngest 5 children with Angela, out of his 17 children.

Angela was elected for the third term as a member of the Legislative Council of Macau, a sort of Parliament of the former Portuguese colony, and vice president of the Macau Jockey Club – the place where horse racing is organized in Macau. Angela Leong, acting the chairwoman of Po Leung Kuk organization, carries out charitable activities that provide support, education and other important things to orphans.

On July 21, The Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome is scheduled to close its doors forever. Canidrome has been operating non-stop since 1963 and will leave 600 racing dogs (greyhounds) homeless. Angela, who is the owner of the place, has committed to taking care of all the dogs with the help of her friends, but there is a possibility that local animal welfare organizations do not agree with her eccentric proposal. Animal care organizations wish to place dogs for adoption abroad, maybe in mainland China or Australia.

Angela’s fortune

Whether that comes as a surprise or not, the main source of her wealth comes from real estate, investments in hotels and buildings of all sorts in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in the rest of China, especially in prime cities.

Apparently she has great flair for finding the potential of a building, of a location. Although she pays a lot (at least that is how it seems at first sight) after a while that property becomes profitable and increases its value. She is recognized for how patiently she built her property portfolio.

Because the size of this business grew too large, she transformed everything into a holding that manages all her properties, called L’Avenue, the name being a tribute to a luxury story tower with office spaces for rent. The building is located in Shanghai and is known as the Boot due to its distinctive shape.

Among her main properties are L’Arc Macau, a luxury hotel, two golf courses located in China and Australia, other minor assets in Beijing and Shanghai, other Macau hotels (including Regency Park), and chain of restaurants called Macau Restaurant.

Regarding her philosophy, Leong says that when buying a property she does not necessarily think whether she will increase or decrease the property value over time, but whether she can use that property in the future at its true value. Even when she was young, in her early 20’s, she already had three apartments in Macau and one in Hong Kong. She scored a big hit in 2005 when she purchased the story building called the Entertainment Building.

After this transaction, she received countless offers to sell the building at least 3 times its value, but Angela thought that while she could pay off the loan with the rents she received and could also make some profit, it was enough for her. Her intention was to invest long-term.

Angela and gambling

Angela Leong got more involved in gambling since 2009, with Stanley Ho’s illness. However, here she was faced with two rivals: Stanley’s two children of his second marriage, Pansy and Lawrence Ho. Now she owns 12% of the total shares of the big casino operator – SJM Holdings.

She says she has learned a great deal from Stanley Ho’s business vision, especially since she did not have a complete, by-the-book education in business management, and she went on countless business trips with him. They shared the same vision with regard to the bridge connecting Macau and Hong Kong and China and what this would mean for the flow of players and they bought helicopters of 6 or 12 places to bring big Japanese players within 30 minutes to their Macau tables. The Grand Lisboa Palace, a grand $ 4.6 billion project she is now working on, will feature the third Versace designer Hotel and the first Karl Lagerfeld Hotel in the world. Unfortunately, the project has undergone several delays and is expected to be open at the end of this year, or at the latest in the first months of 2019.

We are glad we managed to offer you such an interesting immersion in Angela Leong’s fascinating world and we are sure that her success stories enchanted you.

In-Between, a game good to relax your brain into a break

The game of In-Between or Acey-Deucey is often referred to as Red Dog, but its rules are very different from the standard Red Dog game.

In-Between is not very popular at casinos, but is often played in home Poker games as a break from Poker itself. The rules below are for the home game, which is easily adaptable for casino play.

Rank of Cards

A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Object of the Game

The goal is to be the player with the most chips at the end of the game.

The Ante

Chips are distributed to the players, and each players puts one chip in the center of the table to form a pool or pot.

The Draw

Any player deals one card face up, to each player in turn, and the player with the highest card deals first.

The Shuffle, Cut, and Deal

Any player may shuffle, and the dealer shuffles last. The player to the dealer’s right cuts the cards. The dealer turns up two cards and places them in the middle of the table, positioning them so that there is ample room for a third card to fit in between.

The Betting

The player on the dealer’s left may bet up to the entire pot or any portion of the number of chips in the pot, but he must always bet a minimum of one chip. When the player has placed a bet, the dealer turns up the top card from the pack and places it between the two cards already face up. If the card ranks between the two cards already face up, the player wins and takes back the amount of his bet plus an equivalent amount from the pot. If the third card is not between the face-up cards, or is of the same rank as either of them, the player loses his bet, and it is added to the pot. If the two face-up cards up are consecutive, the player automatically loses, and a third card need not be turned up. If the two face-up cards are the same, the player wins two chips and, again, no third card is turned up. (In some games, the player is paid three chips when this occurs.)

“Acey-Deucey” (ace, 2) is the best combination, and a player tends to bet the whole pot, if he can. This is because the only way an ace-deuce combination can lose is if the third card turned up is also an ace or a deuce.

After the first player has finished, the dealer clears away the cards and places them face down in a pile. The next player then places a bet, and the dealer repeats the same procedure until all the players, including the dealer, have had a turn.

If at any time, the pot has no more chips in it (because a player has “bet the pot” and won), each player again puts in one chip to restore the pot.

When every player has had a turn to bet, the deal passes to the player on the dealer’s left, and the game continues.

(Română) Bahamas, câștig la dublu: turism și jocuri de noroc!

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The Grand Ho Tram Strip Casino – Excursion into the world of Vietnamese extravagance

by Paul Dan

Goooood morning, Vietnam! A world-known hello, from the war years. But the military uniform and boots era has passed, and now we are seeking relaxation, entertainment, and adrenaline. And where else would we find it, if not at The Grand Ho Tram Strip, only a two hour car ride away from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s largest city, known for a long time as Saigon! Large and imposing, daring and extravagant, The Grand Resort and Casino marks the start of the transformation of the calm Ho Tram coast in what is wished to become Vietnam’s answer to Macao and Las Vegas.

Beyond the noise of the metropolis holding 9 million inhabitants and other millions of loud scooters, in a calm and green oasis, two steps away from the beach, we find an exclusive resort, The Grand Ho Tram Strip, a favorite destination for gamblers. And not only for them! Built in the Vegas style, The Grand Ho Tram Strip offers a multitude of game opportunities, one more attractive than the next, where you can try your luck. Just so you can have the general idea – over 500 slot machines are at your disposal all the time, and for those preferring emotion, there are 90 gambling tables open 24 hours for Baccarat, Roulette, Sic Bo, Blackjack, Progressive Stud Poker, Hold’Em Poker. With facilities like these, everybody knows it’s the best and best equipped casino in Vietnam.

And to make ourselves understood – while you’re at a table, an army of employees make sure that you lack nothing! Any type of snack, any type of drink.

Discretion grows with the stakes

Premium clients, looking for a discrete place, have The Pearl Room, where you can bet on significant amounts, in private or semi-private rooms. Here, you can have a meal, try the finest liquors, while, for those accompanying you, there is a relaxation room.

The VIP clients benefit from special treatment. For them, the VIP Casino was created, a saloon of utmost discretion, where stakes are high and games private! Gambler in this category have a private check-in area and a special place to eat, the first premium restaurant of the network, The Gold Standard.

According to the casino’s official site, members are rewarded and can enjoy a vast variety of offers and promotions. The gaming experience is completed by the awards prepared for those either playing at the slot machines, either taking a seat at the casino tables: from invitation to various events held within the resort, to gifts. The more people gamble, the bigger the reward and the gathered points can transform the membership card in a gold or even platinum one, which offers access to other benefits, such as free accommodations, additional meals and drinks or even the possibility to participate in competitions and promotions.

Pampering at its highest

Because nights are long and exhausting for gamblers, the hotel offers a true arsenal of pampering. There are indoor and outdoor pools, spa and massage for those considering that it is not enough to forget time on the beach or swim in the clear waters of the South China Sea. They wouldn’t be bothered by anyone anyway, as the beach, over a surface of two kilometers, is private.

The pretentious and the deleterious have the possibility to prove their talents and skill at golf. And we’re not talking of just any golf field, but of one which has the signature of the legendary practitioner of this noble and elegant sport, Greg Norman. And speaking of talent, all of the resort’s guests can prove their singing abilities in the specially organized karaoke halls. The lovers of the seventh art haven’t been forgotten either. They can unwind in the 3D cinema halls.

Another resort attraction is the hotel’s musical fountain created in a Las Vegas style. The water, light and color show takes place daily between 18:00 and 21:00. The water, pumped at high pressure through the 120 jets can reach even 25 meters in height, while the background is ensured by LED projections covering the entire color spectrum. The audio background is ensured by live shows by local musicians, the star of the show being pop-star Son Tung M-TP and the Vietnamese idol Phuong Vy. The concerts are always held at the opening of the weekend sessions.

And to complete the scenery, we have to mention that the resort’s guests have micro-buses and buses at their disposal from and to the airport in Ho Chi Minh. The VIP clients are brought by helicopter!

Build and they will come – is not just a line from the “Field of Dreams” movie, but also the idea which the Ho Tram Strip chain followed. Successful in Macao, the development strategy is simple: the more gambling tables and hotel rooms, the more clients there will be. The main target – the neighboring sea China, with a population of over 1.3 billion inhabitants, with many possible players.

The Grand Ho Tram Strip could have the name of the MGM Resorts International, except for the fact that Americans have retired from the resort’s management. This did not end the project. Currently, the resort has 541 hotel rooms, and, by building the second tower, the accommodations space shall double. 4 billion dollars is the total value of investments made in the two casinos for which permits where issued.

The gambling market in Vietnam today

Gambling was made illegal by the communist regime, as it was considered an unacceptable capitalist concern. However, starting with 1990, restrictions became more lax, and now authorities have opened the investment market in field for large corporations. Besides the live casinos, in Vietnam, electronic gaming halls, horse race betting organized by the state in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, dog racing in Vung Tau and the Vietnamese lottery (state monopoly) are also legal. On-line gambling is practically illegal, but the internet network is censored. However, sports betting, especially on football games, are the most common.

After years in which they were forced to play beyond borders, only in January 2017 did the government allow the Vietnamese people to play in their own casinos. Until then, only foreigners were allowed to do so. Currently, there have been 7 casino operation licenses and 23 gaming hall operation licenses issued. According to specialized sites, the most sought after casinos and gaming halls in Vietnam’s capital are Chat Slots Gaming Center, Palazzo Club, Monte Carlo Saigon Club, Club Royale and The Grand Ho Tram Strip Casino.

(Română) Jocurile de noroc online necesită instrumente specifice de tratare a adicției!

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SORIN CONSTANTINESCU: “You have to have fun at games!”

We offer you an amazing interview with Sorin Constantinescu, the man who needs no introduction within the national gambling. From current general issues of the gambling industry, to the evolution of the on-line market, from explaining the international success that PokerFest is currently enjoying and to their future plans, you’ll find out everything if you read this interesting material.

I’d like to ask you to go back in time to, let’s say 2 years ago; what are the changes that have occurred in the gambling industry during this time?

I can’t say that there have been significant changes, but I can say that there have been more negative changes. The anti-smoking law was introduced which affected us tremendously because earnings decreased both in live casinos and on the casino floors. With regards to live casinos, earning are 30% less than what they were before, we tried compensating by creating heated smoking areas outside, but the moment the client steps out of the game area, you’ve already lost him and he isn’t coming back. There haven’t been any other significant changes, we are only trying to make a strong lobby both in Parliament, the Government and at the ONJN (National Office for Gambling) as to remove the troublesome parts from the law, such as the part with the 5% of casino income, which is in the tax code and now is at the Budget finance commission in Parliament. Another issue is the entry tickets to poker clubs and casinos, which are just killing us. For example, the entry fee into a poker club is of RON 30 and people play RON 25 tournaments, that is the entry fee is greater than the tournament participation. Casinos face the same issue as there are no more high-roller clients who played large amounts of money and so they play RON 200 – 500 and they bring someone along, so they pay RON 100 on for the entry fee, which is absurd, this being one of the reasons for which earnings have decreased significantly.

Can we say that our country’s gambling industry is a mature, functional industry? In your opinion, what could be improved?

First of all, I believe that the part involving the communication and mentality of the authorities should be changed. We are still considered criminals, offenders, social pariahs. Our activity is yet to be seen, 28 years after the Revolution, as a normal economic activity where taxes are paid, even though the gambling industry is worth over 1 billion, even though it brings hundreds of millions to the tax budget each year, we are still treated as mobsters, the most rotten on the market. Speaking of which, in the last several months, the number of proposals to suspend and revoke licenses, on absolutely infantile grounds, has increased. When you suspend or revoke a license, the budget is the first to be affected, and if the facts aren’t all that grave, I believe this measure is unnecessary. A very current example is suspending the license of an operator with 59 games, and his activity was suspended because he had been late in announcing a promotion he had on a casino floor, the requirement of this announcement not even being provided by the law. I don’t think this is normal, it’s not normal that at each commission meeting held every 2 weeks there to be 10, 12, 14 suspension or removal of license files. For example, ANAF went for an investigation at a company where several irregularities had been found, which had been paid afterwards, situation in which the ANAF representatives did not request the suspension, and in goes the authorization commission proposing within the commission that the activity be canceled; I don’t understand this aversion toward economic agents. And the current Government policy is to give warning, in the case in which economic agents commit an error without having intended to do so, then that’s when you give them a warning, you tug on their arm, but you let them go on with their activity. I believe that the mentality of the directorate for authorizations and that of the ONJN has taken a turn for the worst in the past few months, already giving rise to a state of tension between the operators and the ONJN.

On-line gambling games have been legalized in the past few years. Do you believe that, at this time, the on-line gambling games have achieved their maximum development level, or is there still room for development?

As you very well know, between 2010-2015, operations were carried out on the “gray market” as no licenses were given, some of these operators have paid backdated as to benefit from the tax and criminal amnesty, these operators having already gotten their license, some paid but didn’t get their license and, also, there are still some who haven’t paid and they can no longer do so either because the amnesty lasted only 3 months and now they are once again waiting for the foreclosure period which lasts 5 years, so until 2020. It is possible that we will see an important increase in 2020 when these operators will join the market, as well.

Will the on-line gambling sites end-up substituting the game experience offered by the live casinos and the casino floors? Can they be a future danger for the traditional games?

I don’t believe they represent a danger as there are different typologies of clients, in live casinos we have players with the average age between 40-50 years old, while in the on-line environment, we have an age average between 20-30 years old. Furthermore, the on-line won’t be able to substitute the part involving touching the chips, communicating with the staff, the casino ambiance, a good table, so the conclusion is that I don’t believe that all of these could be substituted by the experience offered by a screen.

At a certain point in time, Bucharest alone had 14 live casinos, what was the reason for the majority of them closing down? Will we see an increase in the number of live casinos in our country, in the future? What can be done to revitalize this branch of our industry? Is there something to be done?

The main reasons where economic, we no longer have Romanian high-rollers, there are no more clients to play large amounts. A casino has monthly expenses of EUR 500,000 as in taxes, fees, salaries, rents etc. and it is difficult to produce EUR 15,000 – 20,000 per day only from regular Romania clients who come to play RON 400-500 lei, that is why all casinos are fighting to get foreign players. Here, we are confronted by the same communist mentality, the Romanian ambassadors in Arab countries, Turkey, the Emirates, refuse to give visas to those coming to casinos, even if they have deposited EUR 1 million in the casino’s account, they are regarded as offenders, criminals. The mentality is completely different in EU countries where they are happy is someone comes to spend money in their country. We have the same problem in all Arab country from which we are struggling to bring in players, you do realize that a player depositing EUR 1 million in the casino’s account isn’t coming to Romania to emigrate and get a job in constructions.

The main thing to be done is to change the mentality, which I highly doubt will happen, and the conclusion is that they should allow tourists to come to Romania and to spend money here.

Where do you see Romania from the point of view of gambling in the next 5-10 years?

I don’t see any significant changes, depends on who will run the ONJN, depends on whether there will be other legislative amendments. If things will remain quiet, I don’t believe there will be any significant changes during the following period of time.

If you were to start a new business, would you still go into gambling? What business and what amount of money would you be willing to risk?

I wouldn’t start another business in this field, I began in the ‘90s when I was 20 something years old, I had no idea that it isn’t very Christian to take money from people, and that is why I am full of deep-seeded remorse. I enjoyed doing my job in the most professional manner possible, as I would have done even if I would have worked in a steel foundry or even if I would have been a garbage man, I still wouldn’t have left one single cigarette bud on the ground. As I said, I performed by work as professionally as I possibly could, but I wouldn’t do it again even if I were to gain 10 times less.

I don’t think it’s about the risk anymore, we aren’t living the times we did after the Revolution, now, in order to make a serious business, you have to invest at least 1 million; at my level, I’m not thinking of making another doughnut shop. I’ve grown old, I no longer have the patience after so many years spent in the casino, 7 days out of 7, I would only get involved at a really high level. For example, something new, I am producing a folklore show at Sala Palatului, I like the management and event production part very much, I have a knack for all of it and I believe it is a business that fits me well, especially that it brings joy to people. Being friends with Cornelia and Lupu Rednic and having heard that they wanted to organize a show on their 25th career anniversary, I offered to take over production and I have been seriously involved for 2 months now, I hope it will turn out really well.

Around Romania, with the exception of Bulgaria, all markets are closed or very restrictive; what countries do you consider offer a good environment, both legislatively and economically for the development of gambling games?

Around Romania, there are countries which are not in the EU and given the problems they have, Russia, Moldova, the Ukraine, gambling is relatively closed. However, the EU countries have clear and pretty transparent legislations. There are good markets in other places on the globe, as well, for example, I am currently consulting with the government of Iraq with regards to their national lottery. Again, South America is a good market, we are trying to do something in Brazil, Mexico, we are trying on-line as well, so there is no imperative need to go into the Ukraine or Russia, where there is aggressiveness toward the business.

Almost 6 years ago, you launched PokerFest. How was this path? Did you achieve all your plans with regards to this chapter?

As I said, whenever I get involved, I like to do it in a serious manner; I didn’t create PokerFest with the purpose of winning money, I liked playing poker, I like the type of people who play poker, their education, their behavior. When I launched PokerFest, nobody thought we would get to the point of organizing tournaments at the level that we have, at least in the las year. In December of 2017, we had a tournament with 1200 participants from 35 countries held at the Marriott. I have organized tournaments with Unibet, Pokerstars, I didn’t believe even in my wildest dreams that we would organize a tournament at European level. It was a difficult road because it was very tough to convince Unibet or Pokerstars to make on-line satellites, to trust us, but we succeeded through courage and perseverance. I remember that, at our first tournament held in Timisoara, we had 50 players, now, we have 60-70 dealers. This says a lot…

Where does poker stand right now in our country?

Tournaments are organized; with regards to the poker clubs, we face the issue of entry tickets; if, for example, in a regional city, a second poker club emerges, then one of them will go bankrupt. We have 2 such poker clubs in Bucharest, struggling to hold on, but it is very difficult. The RON 30 fee is very high and people prefer to stay home or to go and play illegally in different locations, mini illegal poker clubs which can’t really be proven by the control bodies and so it is difficult for illegal organizers.

What are your plans for the future with regards to poker in particular, and gambling in general?

With regards to poker, I am trying to bring as many tournaments as possible into the country; I hope that from 2020 when the restriction is lifted, that other operators will come along as well, such as PartyPoker, which is strongly competing against Pokerstars. For example, I was recently in Prague for a tournament where the two operators had organized events at the same time and PartyPoker had taken a great number of clients from Stars. Other great brands will also probably enter the country, we are trying to bring them over and show them that we have a clear, fair legislation, that Romania is a stable country, without issues.

With regards to gambling, in particular, I can say that I am no longer physically involved, I no longer spend nights in the casino, I offer more consultancy for government such as Iraq, Mexico, Serbia and others. I am trying to share from my 28 years of experience in gambling to other companies or persons, I have helped many people who were addicted to gambling, as well. I gave them examples and I explained to them from my long lasting experience that you have to have fun at gambling and that you shouldn’t spend more than 10-20% of the monthly income. I explained to them that in my 28 years I haven’t seen one person to come out top (with profit), at the end of the year, after having calculated everything. We wouldn’t be driving expensive cars or going on luxury vacations if the players were winners at gambling games.