The year that has just ended has been a very complicated one, not only for the national industry of traditional games, but also for many other businesses at national and global level.
The impact of the pandemic has been devastating in some places, leading to the bankruptcy of some businesses, an increase in the unemployment rate, liabilities, unpaid installments and all sorts of problems that arise in such a situation. In the beginning of the last year, people and businessmen did not suspect what great misfortune would come from China. Even now, there is no awareness of the danger that has not yet passed, with the two sectors affected – health and economic, both having consequences on human society.
The entertainment industry, with its most important part HORECA, but also the traditional gambling industry, have fully felt the negative effects of the measures, sometimes desperate, taken by the health authorities, to which have been added the stammers, that may seem somewhat natural in the first stage, but that will prove to be just incompetence, unprofessionalism, mismanagement and an uninspired choice of the wrong people to handle such situations, but also the lack of information, poor communication and a lot of other reasons, have led to the completion of a truly unfavorable year for business in this segment of the economy.
If in mid-March 2020 the state of emergency was introduced and maintained until mid-May and the related normative acts were made in a hurry, we hoped that with the state of alert the situation will improve, if not in terms of health, at least in terms of data and information presented to the population and business people, or at least to notice a better management of the crisis from those who had to do it from the very beginning. Unfortunately, chaos has spread, and abuses have sprung up in almost every area.
What I mean by this is that traditional gambling operators have been unjustly punished by local and national police that have erroneously and maliciously applied the legal rules, sanctioning operators with large sums of money for some imagined or non-existent deeds (operators were sanctioned for opening locations based on the provisions of local authorities, provisions that contradict those issued by county and even national authorities, etc.) and taking employees to police stations “to be identified”, sometimes even threatening them.
The legislative mess that creates confusion even for experienced lawyers (subsequent normative acts, which add to the law and give interpretations that have nothing to do with the basic act, which does not meet deadlines, etc.) was not enough, there have also been situations of uncertainty regarding the national market for traditional gambling (ANAF shift the blame onto ONJN and vice versa), but also situations of unfair competition between gambling operators and those who carry out related activities.
In conclusion, 2020 was a year that generated frustration, stress and unimaginable economic losses for gambling operators. It created the premises for a migration to the “gray” and even “black areas” of industry, allowed parliamentary elections but kept the entertainment industry closed for long periods, allowed the opening of the seaside but the winter holidays had to be spent at home, allowed holidays abroad but closed restaurants and a whole bunch of other examples that each of you have noticed or felt.
The process of state institutions digitalization that started out well slowed down and in some places even stopped, the much praised “work from home” effectively led to the blocking of some state institutions, the information systems of the important ministries had collapsed and remained blocked for long periods of time, employees faced some problems to receive their unemployment benefits. In short, the Romanian business is close to collapse, and it seems that no one sees this situation.
The balance sheet of the ONJN must appear soon. We are looking forward for it and the figures will show the disaster that was in 2020. Depending on this, measures may be taken to support the traditional gaming industry, to protect jobs and investment.
We hoped that once the election winners were established and the vaccine appeared, things would calm down and settle down naturally, but now it seems that we do not want to return to normal, as if we are doing everything to make things more and more difficult, more difficult to solve. The year that ended affected our joy of living, of giving, of loving, we don’t socialize anymore, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny wore a mask, the children learned to write online, the flowers on the street corner disappeared and the smile on people’s faces faded.
Hoping that 2020 will remain the only year marked by such a crisis, we look forward and try to return to normal, to smile again, to shake hands, to offer flowers and to embrace each other.