National Office for Gambling, a new beginning

Wednesday, 6 March 2024

Following the invitation of Casino Inside magazine, please find below an interview with the new President of the ONJN, Mr Gheorghe-Gabriel Gheorghe, seeking to offer you an informative material directly from the source about the main issues that bother our industry such as the digitalization of the institution, the re-assembly of the Advisory Council, the reorganization of the Office, about AWPs, about Responsible Gaming or about the “black list” of gambling websites and many other topics.  You are hereby invited to read it.

Gheorghe Gabriel Gheorghe

Upon your return to the management team of ONJN, please tell us how did you find the institution, the people working here and what do you think is the level of the gambling market in our country?

My return to the management team of the National Office for Gambling came after more than 7 years. My expectations were higher in terms of how the internal work of the Office was organized. I have to admit that during these years the gambling field, an extremely active and dynamic field, has experienced a spectacular evolution, which has led to changes in the specific gambling legislation and to the establishment of new tasks and competences for the Office.

In the PNNR there are a lot of funds earmarked for digitization, is there any intention to access funds this year to enable the effective digitization of the ONJN so that there is easier interaction between the institution and the petitioners? When do you expect documents to be received at the Office in electronic format and when will the institution issue electronically licenses, authorizations and other notices? Which of the old projects from the beginning of the institution that have not been implemented will you resume and adapt to the new legislative provisions in such a way as to improve the smooth running of the National Office for Gambling?

One of the old projects concerns the digitization of the Office’s activity. Currently, institutional digitization is one of the main objectives. 

ONJN

ONJN

Is there a possibility in the future to reintroduce meetings with the business people in the industry, to re-convene the Advisory Board at least once a month?

In the last two years, the Advisory Board has not been convened, but this has not prevented the Office from working with gambling operators and the industry. As you are well aware, the organization of the Advisory Board is governed by the regulations on the organization and functioning of the Office, and it is now necessary to update the composition of the Board so as to ensure that it can resume its work, in accordance with the law. 

Do you have any plans to reorganize the Office once you are President? Will the three directorates, Authorization, Monitoring and Control, remain in their current form or will there be changes?

The current organizational form of the Office no longer corresponds to the current requirements and responsibilities of the institution. The work needs to be reorganized, due to the fact that in recent times, there have been numerous legislative changes in the field of gambling and not only. Moreover, in view of the provisions of Law 296/2023, we are obliged to reorganize the activity, an obligation imposed on all institutions and public authorities.

Do you think it is possible to reintroduce limited risk slot machines (AWP) to be operated in rural locations or in localities with a smaller number of inhabitants?

No.

One of the issues our industry is under attack on is Responsible Gaming. However, in addition to the taxes that Romanian gambling operators pay to operate, they are obliged to pay a tax that goes into the fund “for responsible gambling programs”. Could you please tell us how much money has accumulated in the above mentioned fund so far and whether there are any programs in place to prevent and help people prone to gambling problems and whether there are any plans for future programs?

As you are well aware, the level of the responsible gambling tax is set by the provisions of art. 10 para. (4) of GEO no. 77/2009, as amended and supplemented. According to the amendments made by GEO no. 82 / 2023, 70% of the revenue collected is transferred to the general consolidated budget, and 30% constitutes the budget of the activity financed from own revenue, which you can consult on the official website of the Office at the section https: //onjn.gov.ro/relatii­publice /informatii-de-interes-public/buget-si-contabilitate-interna/. Programs on responsible gambling and protection of vulnerable groups are currently being developed. 

Do you consider that there are provisions in GEO 82 that should be amended/corrected when this Ordinance is debated in Parliament at the decisive moment of adoption by law?

At this moment, I believe that the priority is the preparation of the bill on the amendment and supplementation of the Methodological rules for the implementation of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling, as subsequently amended and supplemented.

But what about the multitude of bills in the Parliament? Will the institution you lead, which is best placed to assess the regulations adopted and their effects on the industry, be decisively and genuinely involved this time in the process of adoption as a law by presenting relevant points of view to be taken into account? Do you consider it appropriate and necessary for these points of views of the ONJN to be made also following consultation with all industry representatives?

With regard to the bills currently being debated in Parliament, I would point out that the Office has submitted its views on the proposals under discussion.  I would point out that whenever the bills concerned changes in the field of gambling, the Office made reasoned comments/proposals, within the limits of the powers provided for by the legal framework. 

What is the status / when will the ONJN Order on the procedure for removing online gambling websites from the “black list” be finalized/issued? 

The draft order on the conditions for the introduction/removal of online gambling websites from the “black list” has been drafted and posted in decision-making transparency on ONJN website on 08.12.2022.

The regulation of the situations in which gambling websites/platforms/brand//logo/applications are removed from the “black list” is a measure ordered also by the institutions with control powers. 

In view of the draft ONJN Order suspending the effects of ONJN Order no. 404/2020, what will be the effect of this future suspension on the type approval/technical certificates issued based on ONJN Order no. 404/2020 while it was in force?

The draft order on the suspension of the applicability of the provisions of the ONJN Order no. 404/2020, as amended, is currently posted in the Decision-making Transparency. It will be possible to assess the possible effects after the proposals, comments, suggestions or opinions expressed by interested parties have been collated.

Thank you for your interest in the specific field of gambling while we assure you of our availability and consideration.

 





Author: Editor

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