On 16th January, at Novotel, took place the Gambling Professionals ReUnion, event supported by Casino Inside. For 4 hours of discussions, the most important people in the gambling industry, from live casino operators, slot operators, offline bookmakers, machines producers and importers to representatives of the State from the regulation and control areas of the gambling activities.
”Gambling Professionals ReUnion” was meant to give an actual pulse of the gambling market in Romania, so that the “juniors” in this industry to have the chance of being face-to-face with the institutional representatives that regulates this field of activity.
This way, all the gambling professionals in Romania could discuss their points of view, could contribute to a generous and useful exchange of ideas, information, but most of all, they managed to create a dinamic and cohesive framework, by which everyone involved could channel their energy to the common good of the gambling industry in Romania.
Our industry has been suffering for a long time from a lack of contructive and useful dialogue between the State, its representatives and the gambling organisers and producers, whether online or offline , live casinos, slot, bet or poker activities.
The gaming Romanian market severely experiences the legislative changes, tax increase and the establishment of a too rigid and unclear framework and, not least-the economic crisis. The excessive charging and the relatively incoherent and incomplete framework led to a drop in the numer of activities and income in this field which has a negative effect on the State regarding a drop in budgetary income from gambling taxes and rise in unemployment in this area, but in the same time it led to bankruptcy and to the market exit of economic agents – organisers, operators, game producers, fact which add to our industry’s imbalances.
“Gambling Professionals ReUnion” wants to peridically realise a framwork for a useful dialogue to every part involved and also, to offer every gaming connoiseurs and “consumers” an analytical vision of the field.
The event was open to everyone interested in gaming industry in Romania and, as a premiere, was transmitted live on the internet on these two sites: www.casinoinside.ro and www.worldofgambling.ro , having a large audience of specialists and of those directly involved in the development of this business regardless of the segment they work in.
This was the first element out of a series that wants to put under debate all the problems concerning romanian gambling. Casino Inside magazine aims that after this introduction to develop the subject through a series of events which will exclusively discuss about the fields of this whole industry.
- “GAMBLING PREFESSIONALS REUNION – SPORT BETTING OFFLINE”
- “GAMBLING PREFESSIONALS REUNION – SLOT OPERATORS”
- “GAMBLING PREFESSIONALS REUNION – CASINO OPERATORS”
- “GAMBLING PREFESSIONALS REUNION –MACHINERY PRODUCERS AND IMPORTERS
The first part of the event started at 10 a.m. with a Session of Presentations of the professional associations and employers’ representatives of the gaming industry in Romania. The following personalities spoke, one by one: Sorin Constantinescu- president of the Casino Organisers Association in Romania (C.O.A.R), Liviu Popovici – president of the ”Romanian Bookmakers” Bets Ogaranisers Association, Dan Iliovici – executive director of ”Romslot” Slots Organisers Association, Cristian Pascu – executive president of the Gambling Organisers and Producers Asscociation in Romania (G.O.P.A.R).
Each of the representatives of the market segments at the rostrum have made their presentations and have shared their points of view regarding the actual state of the industries they represent. A series of problems have been brought under discussion, such as: the number of live casinos in Romania is dropping (from 22 casinos in 2009 to 9 casinos in 2011), which had a negative effect on the budgetary income and led to the rise of unemployment in this field; the desire to start the licensing of the monitoring and reporting market organism was expressed; the 25% tax on gambler’s income that exceed 600 RON was also an interesting subject; the entry tickest and the tax on winnings – the legislator wanted that this measure to go in the direction of social protection and dependency prevention – discouragement of those who play on small amounts of money, and the result was different: to get rid of control systems, the organisers pay for the tickets alone, place them near the machines or they give them to players for free; not only that the organisers still have this problem with control systems, but the players could’t be made more responsible, either.
On the other hand, the fact that the player’s winnings cannot be effectively highlighted was also taken into consideration. A player can win on the spur of the moment at one machine, and to loose in one session overall; the propositiona that was made considtend of taxes on jackpot, gains that cand be quantified and on which the player can be identified.
Moreover, there were talks about the possibility of legalising the poker clubs which are over 150 in Romania; then the taxes chapter was brought under discussion: the gaming market pays a lot of taxes regardless of the segment characteristics: live, slot or bets (excepting bingo where the tax system isn’t so harsh).
Despite the critical tone, the good aspects of the new legislation were also considered. Liviu Popovici, president of “Romanian Bookmakers”, stressed out the clearer laws and the aspepct of control in de field, especially the compulsory terminal installation at the Ministry of Finance what offers real acces to financial data about betting activities; the legislationg has also improved the reporting to financial indicators, and above all, has reduced the taxes by unifying several taxes and authorisations.
On the other hand, “Romanian Bookmakers” representative showed that there are more severe conditions for obtaining the sports betting operational right that came together with economic climate worsening leading to a decrease in the number of the organisers and a polarisation of the betting market. At present, there are only 11 active players, without including the National Lottery’s agencies where the sports betting service, Pariloto, is available in 1600 locations.
During the debates it was stressed the fact that every normative act to be issued with a real, preliminary consulting regarding all the factors involved, so the decisions taken can have unfavorable consequences for everyone : player, organiser, state budget etc.
An example was brough under discussion by showing the favorable and discriminating conditions which the state operator, National Lottery, benefits from. These distortions of the competition on the gambling market were seen by the Competition Council, before the gambling law enforcement and after it came into force. The problem is seen from the point of view of the free association with any person or entity, association offered to the National Lottery in Romania for exploiting individual gambling, including those who become the subject of common markets, such as sports betting.
The industry representatives wanted to repeat that, besides their desire to be listened and actively consulted in real time, the need of stability as a basic criterion that is appreciated by the investors when it comes to engaging ample resources to the long-term business plans.
The speakers addressed the issue of failures of the Ministry of Public Finance concerning the imposibility to develop a business in the online area, accusing the lack of monitoring and reporting organisms. In fact, there is concern about the proper law implementation, because for the time being there are no online sports betting local operators, thought the number of the Romanian participants in these online activities from abroad is rising. On the other hand, the fiscality is considered too excesive regarding the licensing conditions ad the ones from the gambler’s point of view (25% tax on the player’s income).
As concerning “Respinsible Gaming” there was put forward the organisers’ desire to move from this stage to the one of making the players more responsible throught specific programs that protect them when face to face with the addiction. A good example is the Romslot’s initiative for running the “Play responsibly” program on each member’s level.
It was discussed the fact that at present in about 8 000 locations out of 10 000 there are 2-5 exploited slot machines (bars and betting agencies), reaching a total number of 30 000 slot machines. In this state, G.O.P.A.R. proposed a numer of 15 slot machines/location in Bucharest and 10 slot machines/location in province.
Gambling Professionals ReUnion brought other several matters into discussion: the 30%-60% cut on udes slot machines for the majority of authorised organisers before 2009; the level of taxes and restrictions of the minimum number of machines/location lead to permanent dificulties regarding the quaterly payment in advance of the autorisation of the tax rate; many organisers being at a loss or on the brink of loss. At the time being, Romania is a week market for the local and international producers of game equipment, being full of second-hand ones from Rusia, Ucraina, Polonia; the 8 000 Ron/year authorisation tax was denounced for being to high and the G.O.P.A.R proposed a 6 000 Ron/year; accusations were made regarding the high fines for minor contraventions in the operating process; the notion of „collecting” , or turnover, or operators’ income as daily, weekly, monthly or anual ”balance”, of the slot machines. The ”Rm-Valcea Sindrome” was also debated – case by which the winnings evidence idientifies every person that receives payment from slot machines; otherwise, the payments towards the players are not taken into consideration, being registred as tax deductible expense, hence operators’ bankruptcy by the amounts charged; the legality of the association contracts for the locations of the activities was also brought up, association with the primary space owner for usage of the space and not for usage of machines or other types og gambling (bets), permitted only by the license holders. Tax evasion and unfair competition due to machines without license on the market is rising. Lately, there are requirements of local licence fees that overlap gambling legislation.
In the second part of the “Gambling Professionals ReUnion” event, the following guests answered promptly and profesionally to the majority of questions asked by the audience: Mr Florentin Croitoru – division chief commissioner, Financial Guard, Mr. Claudiu Enache – Fraud Investigation Divisiom, Mr. Gabriel Ciupitu – Gaming Commission, senior adviser to the Ministry of Finance, Ms Nicoleta Crisan – Competition Council. The dialogue was of great interest for the gambling indistry in Romania. The audience very balanced, every market segments being identified at the highest level of representativity, to all the tips of the industry finding their places in tha full room at Novotel.
Casino Inside magazine would like to thank to all the factors involved for support in carrying out the first edition of the Gambling Professionals ReUnion and we are convinced that such manifestations are good news for our industry and manage to put forward issues and solutions to them, there was alarming news taken into account, but positive thing were also revealed, we offered a framework for discussion, dialogue and we consider these to be the ingredients of a successful event. We assure you that such meetings will followe throughout 2012.