According to the information provided by the National Institute of Statistics, a decrease is also observed in the turnover registered in June 2020, compared to the same month last year: -55,9%
The National Institute of Statistics (INS) issues, periodically, press releases about the activity of various economic branches, more specifically regarding the increase or decrease of the turnover of different fields.
The gambling activity is also among the analyzed sectors, this being included in the category of market services provided to the population, in the field of recreational activities. In mid-August, referring to gambling activities, the INS released a figure that raised serious questions in the market about the calculation method applied by the Institute. INS claims that the volume of gambling activities turnover increased by 1506.7% in June 2020, compared to May of this year: “In terms of market services provided to the population, gross series, for June 2020, compared to the previous month, the turnover volume increased by 152.8%, due to the increment registered in the field of gambling and other recreational activities (+ 1506.7%)”, indicated INS press release.
The information is all the more surprising as the activity of traditional gambling has been allowed since June 15, and until then, the revenues of traditional gambling organizers have been, for about three months, zero. It is also unclear whether the figures included as well the remote gambling operators based outside Romania. However, the NIS published later additional details regarding the figures presented, specifying that “the evolution from June 2020 to May 2020 is generated by comparing the information of May 2020, when the activity of this sector was extremely low, with the information of June 2020, when the activity was partially resumed. The mathematical reporting of the June turnover dynamics (48,2%) to the dynamics of May (3,0%) led to an increase of 1506,7%.”
Beyond the interpretation of this figure, which we still consider to be unlikely, it is important to note that the contraction of approximately 42% in the gambling field in the first half of this year, a percentage also estimated by the industry: „The activity of market services provided to the population, gross series, in the period 1.I-30.VI.2020 registered a turnover by 38,3% lower compared to the period 1.I-30.VI.2019, influenced by reducing the turnover at (…) for gambling and other recreational activities (-41,9%) (…) ”.
In fact, an equally drastic decrease is observed in the comparison of volumes between June 2020 and June 2019, when the turnover of the gambling sector decreased by 55,9% compared to 2019. “July and August are two unproductive months for the sports betting sector, except when the final football tournaments -the European Championship or the World Championship- are organized once every two years. Fortunately, now we have had the internal championship closures, the outstanding Champions League and Europa League matches and also a few tennis tournaments have started, but this did not overcome the players’ restraint to come indoors. To all this are added the sanitary measures that the industry has undertaken and which lead to the limitation of the number of players & a low interaction between them, thus altering the feeling of community. Combining these with the some punters’ restraint to access the land based casinos and the betting agencies, we are witnessing a contraction of the revenues registered by the betting companies which, in some situations, is higher than 30% compared to the same period last year. But we will see the real economic effects of the measures imposed by the pandemic only in the autumn, when the sports activity will be resumed”, believes Liviu Popovici, president of Romanian Bookmakers.
High degree of compliance with the imposed rules
The gambling industry strictly enforces and respects the measures limiting the spread of SARS CoV-2 virus imposed by the authorities. Strict protective measures are implemented in each gambling location, and the staff of each location constantly check if these measures are respected by their clients. We mention only some of the measures taken: the reorganization of gambling halls in order to respect the distance imposed by the authorities and the periodic disinfection of objects and common areas, carried out by employees, allowing access to only a limited number of customers (wearing protective masks), depending on the size of the location, the provision of disinfectants, the installation of dividers between slot machines, the periodic ventilation of the locations, etc.
All these rules were assumed voluntarily and with one voice by the entire industry even before their imposition by the authorities, and subsequently approved by the specialists of the National Institute of Public Health and transposed in the Joint Order of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy No. 1910/2020. Proof of the high degree of compliance of the industry is that, out of the more than one thousand checks carried out by the authorities at the level of gambling locations, with very few exceptions, there were no flagrant violations of the rules: “Betting agencies degree of compliance with sanitary measures is very good. It is an effort made by the industry to ensure the protection of customers and employees, which represents our priority during this period. We send a safety message for gamblers, namely that the game locations provide one of the safest environments for interaction and entertainment”, says Liviu Popovici, president of Romanian Bookmakers.
There’s no way for the measures taken by the industry to be ignored and this situation will certainly remain so in the future. The fact that in recent months we have witnessed an avalanche of negative opinions and articles, directed at the gambling industry, shows that the perception is not the desired one and that all actors involved must make a greater effort to improve the image of this field. The way in which the industry respects the legislation and the principles of social responsibility establishes the way it is perceived, both by the decision-makers and by the public opinion.