The last 2 years have been very difficult due to the effects of the restrictions imposed by the authorities on the fight against the covid-19 pandemic and lately due to the visibly deteriorating macroeconomic climate which will soon have negative effects on the microeconomic level as well, in the activity of companies. That is why we invited Mr. Sorin Georgescu, President of Romslot, for a discussion to find out as much details as possible about the activity of the Association of Slots Organizers and about Romslot’s objectives, priorities, successes, but also about the issues the association has to address this year.
What are the priorities for Romslot in 2022? What are this year’s objectives?
Romslot believes that the gambling industry needs to pay more attention to public perception. In Romanian, our image needs considerable efforts to start improving.
Our major objective this year is to start a broad consultation with all associations for responsible TV and outdoor advertising.
From a fiscal point of view we firmly believe that the quarterly licence fee payment should at least for 2022 be changed to monthly payment in advance but all our addresses and initiatives have remained unanswered. The macroeconomic situation is complicated and monthly payment of slot fees can bring better collection to the state budget.
Unfortunately, our goal of harmonizing slot licensing fees with the restrictions imposed by 08.03.2022 has not been achieved. A good number of slot operators are having problems in paying the 2021 licensing fees and instalments on time because the restrictions have considerably reduced revenues, but the fees have remained the same.
What is Romslot’s point of view on PL-x nr 54/2021, “Draft Law for the completion of Government Emergency Ordinance nr.77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling”, tacitly adopted by the Senate recently?
Romslot has always encouraged dialogue and harmonisation of approaches and objectives, both within the industry and with institutional and political stakeholders.
PLX 54/2021 seeks to regulate self-limitation of gaming participants, but will not achieve its objective in its current form.
The form adopted in committee has not been discussed with Romslot, the industry associations or the ONJN. Our contribution to this form does not exist because we were not consulted.
Laws should not be written to be published, but to produce effects with predictable results from the moment of drafting.
The responsibility for implementing laws without dialogue and consensus is put “behind” economic agents.
Authorities lifted the State of Alert in early March this year. Do you think that the threat of restrictions on the fight against the covid-19 pandemic is over or should we expect that from September-October the authorities will resume the scaremongering about the pandemic and with it the restrictions that have been sweeping the industry for the last 2 years? Have you remained in direct communication with the authorities on this issue?
We have no reason to consider a scenario where restrictions will resume.
Our dialogue with the authorities has been ongoing and I think it needs to continue in order to learn from what we can do better because the impact of the measures from an economic point of view has been disastrous.
Let us remind everyone that we have followed the instructions of the authorities and have encouraged and communicated responsible behaviour to both our employees and customers.
We are better off today than we were 6 months ago because we have worked together and I firmly believe that we will be running our business and our lives without restrictions this year.
I think more importantly we have been able to communicate better about our industry during the pandemic period, both to the general public and to political actors. I would like to thank both Anca and the SMA team for all their efforts.
Romslot together with our members and partner associations, Rombet and Romanian Bookmakers managed to carry out the biggest national communication campaign for the gambling industry.
With the passage of time, the importance of belonging to Romslot – as a leading professional employers’ association in the gambling industry – has become apparent. Have you recently recruited new members to the association? What are the benefits of Romslot membership?
Even if Romslot is not a perfect association and there are still areas for improvement, Romslot is strong, mobilised, modern and has the resources to use to achieve a long and responsible future for our industry.
The Board of Directors in Romslot is the governing body of the association. The Board of Directors consists of 3 women and 3 men. Mrs Manu, Mr Georgescu and Mr Buzas with over 20 years experience in gaming and Mrs Bazavan, Mrs Dobre and myself between 15-20 years experience. The Board of Directors has put the future of the industry first, not an easy task, but one that has always been accomplished.
Romslot before it was an association was a set of principles and values and we have navigated time and pandemonium with the help of these, both myself and the Board of Directors, together with our members. Our relationships, behavior and communication both within the industry and outside of it have been governed by that set of principles and values.
Although the pandemic has had challenges from all sides, Romslot has managed to attract new members and I thank them for their confidence.
About the benefits of Romslot membership I invite you to contact us to discuss how we will build the future together.
What could be the issues Romslot needs to be prepared to address this year?
Romslot believes that a broad consultation is needed to update the legislation as it is almost 15 years since the gambling legislation was introduced. Technologies have evolved and European directives need to be harmonised with the specifics of our industry.
This is particularly important as the industry has operationally adopted GDPR, AML, as well as new standards for gaming equipment. We hope in the near future to adopt the standard for the centralised IT system as well.
Romslot will also support a broad initiative to support a responsible framework for TV and outdoor advertising for the entire gaming industry. I remind everyone that the limitation of illuminated advertising to 6 sqm for street locations was agreed with industry representatives in 2008. We have a precedent and I am convinced that we can do it again this year together with Rombet, Romanian Bookmakers and AOJND.