The last few days have been about as much talk about slot machines as the tragedies in Crevedia, 2 May or the explosion on the Moldova highway in Vrancea county. Suddenly, in pure Romanian style, we all have opinions about the game of slot machines, just as we had about Covid, the war in Ukraine or Artificial Intelligence… Experts in viruses have become experts in slot machines, experts in drones or ballistic missiles have become experts in slot machines, and so on…
As a way of getting into it, not as someone who knows anything about the gambling industry, I would like to offer you a list of 20 things you didn’t know about the Romanian slot industry:
- Gambling is a legal activity.
- The gambling industry is a state monopoly and operates under a special law, OUG 77/2009.
- Gambling is an entertainment not a form of enrichment.
- The state provides operating licenses to companies wishing to exploit this monopoly for which they pay licensing and operating fees. If a company breaches its obligations, its licence is revoked and it can no longer legally operate in the market.
- The National Gambling Office (ONJN) has been managing this sector on behalf of the Romanian state for 10 years and ensures the proper functioning of this industry. Therefore, the gambling sector is not a village without dogs, but on the contrary, it represents an area of maximum legality that brings considerable amounts of money to the Romanian state budget.
- The tax compliance rate of the gambling industry is 100%. In other words, the gambling industry pays its licensing and operating fees in advance.
- By 2022, the gambling industry has paid taxes, both specific and general, related to any company, of more than 1 billion euros.
- There are over 45,000 employees in the gambling industry.
- During the pandemic period gambling venues were the first to close and the last to open according to the infection rate.
- During the pandemic period, gambling venues were the most restricted by the authorities, with takings falling by up to 90% compared to the pre-pandemic period.
- Even though during the pandemic period the vast majority of gambling venues did not operate or operated with long and lengthy restrictions, the state requested and received from the industry amounts representing licensing and operating fees and taxes even though no gaming equipment operated for many months and no gambler crossed the threshold of any gaming hall.
- Gaming venues were the first and among the few high street venues to introduce measures to ensure the health of their customers so that their presence in gaming venues does not affect the health of gaming participants. Among these measures we can mention just a few: reduction of the number of machines in the halls and their separation by pexiglas separators, hygiene of the gaming machines, all employees and customers wearing masks, disinfectant dispensers in each location, digital thermometers, surface disinfection equipment with ozone-based technology, etc. Investments of millions of euros have been made throughout the industry to keep players safe.
- The gambling industry was the first and only economic branch in Romania to have been vaccinated 65-70% voluntarily. The gambling industry also carried out the first pro-vaccination campaign in the private sector in Romania, popularising the importance of vaccination for the health of Romanians.
- The gambling industry helps its community by financially supporting projects that the state ignores. For example, the only health heliport built in Romania in the last 33 years was financed exclusively by a gambling company that successfully completed the Heliport at the University Hospital in Bucharest with an investment of 1 million euros. The gambling industry supports education through various merit scholarship programs or even recently supported several Romanian students to attend the International Space Development Conference. The gambling industry supports children’s homes or old people’s homes by financially supporting projects where the state turns a blind eye, arguing that it has other priorities, mentioning here the funding of projects by gambling companies of Give Life, Hope and Home for Children, etc. And last but not least, let us not forget the defining contribution to the promotion of Romanian sport through sponsorships that concern both sports competitions as a whole (football, handball, basketball, etc.) and support for the teams in these competitions, the vast majority of these teams being sponsored almost exclusively by gambling and betting companies.
- Over the years, the state has collected over 7 million euros from gambling operators through gambling taxes, which are sitting in the accounts of the ONJN and have not been used to start any project dedicated to fighting gambling addiction, as promised.
- Gambling industry companies supported the establishment of the Responsible Gambling Association many years ago. A non-profit company that runs education and prevention programmes among young people and helps to prevent gambling addiction, educate the public on the subject and combat addiction by providing psychological counselling to people who have misunderstood the entertainment role of gambling.
- The Responsible Gambling Association offers the only programme dedicated to raising awareness among young people about gambling issues. The programme is called Majority Training and is run in high schools across the country and is aimed at students in grades 11 and 12.
- The 24/7 Counselling Programme run with the support of the Responsible Gambling Association is the only 24-hour programme in Europe that provides psychological counselling to people who develop compulsive gambling behaviour and offers support to their families.
- In the last year, the Responsible Gambling Association has responded to almost 6000 calls from people seeking free psychological counselling or simple information about gambling and addiction. 4000 of them have received free counselling and psychotherapy from the specialists of the Responsible Gambling team.
- In 2021, the Joc Responsabil Association also offered its free 24-hour psychological counselling service to COVID-19 patients admitted to the “Marius Nasta” Pneumophthisiology Institute in Bucharest, their relatives and the hospital’s medical staff, in order to help improve their psychological and emotional state.
These are just some of the things you probably didn’t know about the slot industry because they are positive things, and the politicians and the general media only show you the negative things about this economic branch, they show you the sensational, but the truth is that the slot industry is a serious industry, super-regulated, super-taxed, super-controlled by the authorities and that understands its place and its mission in the community supporting the health of Romanians, children’s education, culture, cinema and last but not least sports and sports competitions.
When you see or hear another news about slot machines think about what you read here and remember that it is a LEGAL-TAXED-REGULATED-JOB PROVIDING FIELD.
Where we still need to work is EDUCATION, and here we need everyone’s support to convey to anyone further down the line that in the gambling hall you don’t get rich, you just need to have fun.