The result of a potential restriction of gambling operation in Romania shall not lead to an elimination of addiction, but rather to the development of a black market, to be understood as corruption, and a lack of real protection of the gambling players
The gambling industry has lately been facing a series of measures which aim at restricting operators and which have the declared purpose of fighting against addiction. However, the long-term result may cause damages to both the state and to society. It’s imperative that certain mentions be made here, both from a legal perspective and an economic and social perspective, meant to support the profile companies, as well as to draw the attention of implicated authorities with regards to the real consequence of these restrictions.
For starters, we establish a legal framework. The initiatives aimed at local normative acts are adopted only by respecting the Constitution and the laws in effect at the time of adoption. Proof of this is Law no. 24/2000, which clearly states that “upon the elaboration of draft resolutions, orders or provisions, due consideration shall be paid to the their character, that of laws which are subordinate to Government laws, resolution and ordinances and other superior-level laws”, and the special legislation, respectively GEO 77/2009, which establishes that licensed and authorized operators “can carry out their activity on Romania’s territory, without having to obtain an authorization, approvals, additional fees or licensed from other authorities”. As such, one cannot invoke the prohibition of a legal activity, which is specifically legislated by any means of a local administration, whose competence clearly is not that if issuing normative acts which may condition the activity of the gambling operator.
The state collects EUR 300 million from this field
If we are to speak about the impact at economic level, we must underline the fact that the level of taxes and fees for the gambling field exceeds that imposed in other business sectors and it represents a considerable amount collected for the budget. The industry contributes with approximatively EUR 1 billion to Romania’s GDP and EUR 300 million to the state budget, through the direct taxes, corporate tax and other annually collected taxes, which represent a total of 1.3% of the total a national level.
Furthermore, apart from the financial damages that a potential prohibition of gambling would generate, this particular case also has a social component, that is the fact the industry’s 45,000 employees risk losing their jobs.
As a result of applying these measures, we also add the lack of commercial space occupation. The trade activity in Romania suffers for various reasons and less and less stores are opened and pass the test of time outside modern commercial centers. It is already a proven fact that street retail continues to register deficit, as commercial spaces owners lack – and have lacked for a long time now – a vast range of options when it comes renting spaces or developing a business. Concurrently, an explanation for what some call the “expansion” of gambling has been that several other fields in the trade or services sectors do not function at the present time in Romania.
The proportion of those who exaggerate with regards to gambling activities place Romanians within normal limits
Such a measure wouldn’t just affect Romania directly, but the civil society as well. The decision to move gambling locations or to completely prohibit them would lead to the development of the black market and to the players turning to environments which are difficult to control, where they lack protection. Where authorized locations exist, the risk of occurrence of addiction issues and even issues pertaining to crime, is under control. To these, we also add the creation of new corruption instruments, a sensitive subject in our country.
Along recent years, efforts have been made as to prove that gambling threatens to destabilize society. The study “Bets and gambling in Romania”, carried out by GfK, the only research which has measured the incidence of gambling in our country, has shown that 0.6% of Romanians with ages over 18 have exceeded the line of entertainment, that is they play more than they should. It must be noted that the 0.6% of those manifesting gambling issued are not “addicted”, they are simply on a dangerous road they can still give up on without help. The percentage of addicts, respectively that of those who require specialized help is, however, even smaller. Moreover, in comparison with the European area, we realize that Romania falls under the European margin, established between 0.5-2% of the of age population. The issue does exists and it is necessary that the industry address it directly, however, it does not represent the frequently invoked “disaster”.
Alongside other profile associations, the Romanian Bookmakers is on the front line of the effort to promote a responsible attitude, both among players and the entire gambling industry. We support the “Responsible Game” program, which offers support to all those who suffer from gambling issues and to their families. Furthermore, the Romanian Bookmakers members are always concerned with the perspectives of the social impact of their activities, and they have all understood that, for the balance of the industry, social responsibility is essential. We have already committed to promoting a responsible game attitude and we are always open to dialog and to identifying the instruments through which gambling may be understood as just a means of entertainment. We always focus on improving the perception had of this field and the collaboration with the decision-makers, by means of a viable partnership and a dialog with the authorities.