Recently, the Association of Slot Organizers – ROMSLOT, chose Mister Sorin Georgescu as the new president of this association. We took advantage of this occasion and spoke to the new ROMSLOT president in order to find out which will be the primary industry vulnerabilities in the following period, what are the solutions to the current market issues and what actions must be taken so that the dialog with the regulation authorities or, now, with the local administration, is rendered successful.
We know that you spent almost your entire professional career in the field of gambling. Mister Sorin Georgescu, you are the new ROMSLOT president. Please tell us a few things about yourself, about how the association has evolved in the last few years and what are your objectives as president?
The fact that the ROMSLOT members, my colleagues with whom I’ve been working in the past few years, chose me as president of the Board of Administrators is not only an honor for me, but also a responsibility and a commitment, now, when the market faces more and more challenges.
ROMSLOT has represented the most powerful voice in the dialog with the authorities, ever since it came to be. We have carried out actions for a correct industry image and we have contributed to a regulation that will help organizers in their day to day activity. Through our members, as an association, we have undertaken to improve the industry’s reputation and I firmly believe that this was visible in the manner in which we chose to carry out our activity, supporting responsible game more and aiming for a responsible profit.
I can now say that I’m part of a new management team, but I work alongside the same people I have worked with for the last two years, in the sense that the format of the ROMSLOT Board of Administrators has not changed, we have just assumed new roles. Through this, we insure continuity in relation to the previous management and I’ll take this opportunity to thank Adrian Georgescu, the previous president, for all his effort while president of ROMSLOT. Furthermore, I especially appreciate the fact that the vice-president and the general secretary positions are occupied by two very experienced colleagues, Mrs Gherghina Ionescu (MaxBet Romania) and Valentina Dobre (Advanced Technology). Relying on their professionalism and their experience, I am confident that, together, we will successfully represent the association’s interests. One of our objectives for the following two years is that of have having a more consistent presence in the public space, through which we will try to debunk a series of myths that gravitate around the industry. Concurrently, in the next two years, we want to talk about the principles that are the basis of this activity sector: we are a well regulated industry, that aims for a responsible profit, an industry that, first and foremost, means entertainment, that adopts international standards and which is, simultaneously, an important contributor to the state budget, a creator of jobs and a trustworthy partner in the dialog with the state institutions and the profile associations.
Which do you believe shall be the primary vulnerabilities in the following period for the industry?
I believe that in the following period, the vulnerabilities will come from the same areas as they did until now, respectively vulnerabilities regarding operation and regulation, except that, for a few months now, we have been facing these vulnerabilities at a greater intensity. For example, in the first category, we find the pressures exerted upon us from local authorities and we have had sufficient cases in this respect lately, starting with Oradea, where gambling has been prohibited in the Historic Center of the city, and continuing on with Ploiesti, where an authorization tax was imposed, and finishing, I hope, with Voluntari, where the mayor has proposed a local referendum regarding the prohibition of gambling. Of course, we haven’t forgotten about Pitesti and Bucharest, where similar discussions took place at the level of certain political factors. Certainly, these restrictions exceed the legal framework provided by the gambling legislation – GEO 77/2009, but the difficulty in fighting these restrictions also originates, as you know, from the industry’s reputation.
The other source of vulnerabilities is related to the specific conditions that operators must meet as a result of the implementation of Directive no. 4 regarding money laundering. Although the transposition of this directive into Romania’s legislation was made by taking the industry’s opinion into account, the manner in which we will meet the requirements provided in the law’s text shall depend on a future regulation in this respect. Fighting money laundering is an important subject on the European Union Agenda and the gambling industry must grant it its due importance. In fact, this is what we always plan on doing at ROMSLOT: eliminate the risks by complying with the legislation in force, as much as possible.
We believe that Romania’s gambling industry is among the best regulated ones in the European Union. The rules that each operator must respect, both from the point of view of responsibilities and of publicity, are very well defined, which makes Romania an example of good practices at European level.
In your opinion, what are the solutions for the aforementioned risk?
I do not believe that such initiatives, as those mentioned above belonging to the local authorities, truly represent priorities on the public agenda, and any attempt to modify the legislation should be made in close collaboration with the industry.
I believe that dialog is always the solution and we are always prepared to talk with the authorities, as we are a responsible dialog partner that understands its role and place in society. From our point of view, the gambling industry actively contributes to the promotion of a responsible game behavior, and the ROMSLOT objective is to find solutions to these problems together with the authorities.
Speaking about the dialog with the authorities, how do you comment on the new technical norms published recently by the ONJN?
A new form of the draft normative act regarding the minimal technical requirements for the assessment of gaming means was recently published under decisional transparency. We believe that the good functioning of Romania’s gambling market represents a common desideratum for both the companies in the field and the authorities, and this framework can be ensured through constant dialog between all parties involved. Following the technical analysis of the provisions under the new document, our colleagues in the association, slot machine manufacturers, have noticed that, in order to succeed in carrying out an implementation without blocking the requirements within, it is necessary that the compliance terms be observed by the entire market, as a result of a common, attentive and rigorous analysis. I am sure that we will be able to optimally communicate with the ONJN, as we have done many times before, for the benefit of a more responsible future.