The “social and economic restart” is probably the name of the situation we are in now. Like all the crises in the history of mankind, also the one we are experiencing today has, besides the dramatic consequences, some positive aspects too.
How will the land based gambling industry in our country will be affected by the brutal cessation of activity, which will be the social and economic consequences, is difficult to say, but there are some aspects worth highlighting. The fact that, regarding the relation with the authorities, such a situation forces us to use distance communication tools, e-mail, digital electronic signature, and a host of other digitalization facilities is a good thing. It is true that these instruments could have been introduced much earlier in the current and operational practice of the Romanian authorities, but it is not too late now.
The general global hysteria, together with the uncertainty of national policies and the absence of coherent and especially preventive measures only diminish the morale of the public, but at the same time, the funny posts from social networks, the humor and the jokes regarding the situation, characteristic of this nation, the merry part of the story, will help us to move on.
Now, in addition to the serious medical situation, there is a future major economic crisis, to the extent that, it will be hard to identify quickly the solutions that will allow the functioning, even in degraded mode, of the main component of the national economy – the private investor. At this point it seems like we are competing, as in school, I am more affected!, No! It’s not you! It’s me! because…! Anyone with a degree, knowledge and common sense observes that the national economy (with a few exceptions that can be changed from one stage to another – today – the pharma industry, tomorrow – the food industry, who knows?) it will “go down” unless some absolutely necessary protective measures are taken urgently. The transport industry is dramatically affected, followed by the HoReCa and tourism, generically named entertainment services (which is also part of gambling), and almost all branches of industry and services are undoubtedly affected. What we have to do?
Without having the all-knowing claim, I will try to propose some measures that should be taken into consideration by the decision makers from us, with regard to traditional gambling. The first aspect to be regulated is the cessation of payments related to the operating permits during the “emergency” period, taking into account a principle of law and, at the same time, an economic fact – you cannot collect monopoly taxes from an activity that is stopped (even temporarily). On the same basis, the payment of the operating license (which is made in advance) must be reduced by the amount related to the period of forced non-functioning of traditional gambling.
The second proposal takes into account the social protection of employees in the national gambling industry, meaning that measures should be taken to include this category of employees, along with those in tourism, restaurants, etc. A regulation that supports one part and justifies another part of society can only give birth to animosity and distrust in the troubled days of today. Here we refer to the proposal to support the “technical unemployment”, which must be applied to all the social categories affected, without individualizing according to subjective criteria (NACE code, that service or that branch).
A third aspect I consider is the digitization of the land based industry, specifically, the military ordinance did not prohibit the organization of gambling on the national territory (remote gambling has no problem), but only stopped the activity that takes place in the specialized locations (slot machines, bingo, lotto and betting agencies), but the sale of gambling-specific products is not forbidden in the big chain stores, at the petrol stations, etc. Therefore, what stops the industry from introducing terminals or any other digital systems that allow players to participate in organized games? This also applies to the National Lottery, which, with a little “luck”, can recover the lost opportunities as it manages to identify fast and efficient solutions.
Last but not least, I think the time has come for the national gambling industry to be supportive. What I want to say ? The time has come for the online people to return to the land based ones the favors they received only a short time ago, meaning that it may be beneficial to set up a safeguard fund from which to support those affected, to create new types of gambling (combining the specific elements of the traditional games with the remote ones), associations that will ultimately be beneficial to those involved, even to temporarily use the money raised at the fund available to ONJN, to prevent addiction, for a period of time, for the benefit of the national gambling industry, if we take into account that those are just the fees paid by the licensees.
Hoping that these few lines wrote in one of the evenings of “self-quarantine”, with or without my will, will be interpreted just in the sense in which we presented them, that is a constructive, positive one, I only wish you health, patience and to hear well!
By Av. prof. Dr. Marius PANTEA