Piata de jocuri din Romania are multe provocari. Doar cei puternici pot supravietui
Cand ati avut primul contact cu aceasta industrie?
Am inceput in 1990 cand Uniunea Sovietica s-a prabusit si pe timpul cand nu existau cazinouri. Parca a trecut o vesnicie de atunci. Eu sunt de origine din Letonia si primul cazino in care am lucrat a fost Casino Austria din Riga. Apoi am fost preluati de un grup din Turcia ce cauta sa se extinda in acest terioriu, numit Imperial. Oficialii acestui grup au facut o oferta intregului grup din Letonia sa lucreze în Turcia. De fapt, am fost unul dintre tipii aceia care au plecat din Letonia sa viziteze Istanbulul. Am fost invatat de un manager englez si am inceput sa lucrez ca dealer. Aveam 19 ani pe atunci. Era destul de antrenant pentru mine. Am fost foarte impresionati de ce am vazut in Istanbul, un complex la fel de mare ca cele din Las Vegas sau Atlantic City, cu restaurante, muzica live si multe mese de joc pentru jucatori din Anglia, America, Turcia sau Letonia. In concluzie era ca o companie internationala care incerca sa aduca oferta pentru cetatenii turci la un cu totul alt nivel, oferindu-le o experienta unica, experienta cazinoului. Deci, nu erau vremuri rele si volumul jocurilor era destul de ridicat. Puteai astfel sa tragi cu ochiul la niste expriente unice din industrie. Am stat cam 4 sau 5 ani in Turcia, dupa care m-am mutat in Turkmenistan. Avantajul meu era ca vorbeam turca,
rusa si engleza, iar tara fusese sub ocupatie otomana timp indelungat. Am deschis aici un cazino de lux si l-am condus timp de 2 ani.
Dupa aceea, am venit in Romania in 1995. Am fost primii, dupa Casino Bucuresti din Intercontinental, ce au deschis un cazino in palatul Stirbei din Buftea, numit Casino West. Am inceput prin a furniza servicii doar pentru grupurile israeliene, repectiv turstti, dar s-a dovedit a nu fi o alegere de succes pentru ca era prea departe pentru ei. Apoi ne-am mutat la restaurantul Dunarea din Intercontinental- West Cowboy Style Casino, unde am stat 2 ani. Experimentam oarecum stilul de viata al romanilor, pentru ca prin anii 1995-1996 erau inceputurile cazinourilor. M-am intors in Letonia si am lucrat pentru alti doi ani intr-o companie internationala si apoi am mers in State, pe vase de croaziera, timp de 5 ani, si un an in Moscova. Intre timp am inceput sa facem parte dintr-o mare familie, Olympic Entertainment Group si am fost un norocos, pentru ca m-a intors in Romania dupa multi ani.
Cunosteam limba romana, aveam prieteni aici, si de asemenea stiam cum stateau lucrurile in urma cu 10 ani. Romania e cu totul diferita asa cum o vad acum. Timpul a schimbat si industria jocurilor.
Am cumparat Napoleon Casino, care avea o reputatie proasta si am facut tot conceptul sa stea in picioare, lucru care ne-a luat un an.
Ce parere aveti de piata romaneasca acum, cu criza?
Unica, interesanta si antrenanta. Numai cei puternici pot supravietui.
Cum vedeti dumneavoastra Olympic Casino in general, dar si in Romania?
In genere, Olympic a trecut prin vremuri grele, nu exista indoiala – probabil s-au facut investitii gresite la momente nepotrivite, sau poate analize
gresite. Dar am incercat sa analizam, sa privim putin inapoi si am decis ca unele lucruri pe care le-am facut aici au fost gandite gresit si necesita
imbunatatiri. Am decis sa ne orientam pe sloturi, ceea ce se dovedeste a fi o decizie buna. Va spun ca in curand, vom vedea niste rezultate.
Unde vedeti Olympic Casino in viitor?
Pe aceasta piata, Olympic Casino are rolul sau si ofera ceva interesant clientilor: atmosfera, o abordare diferita, entertainment, show, si loterii. Cred ca asta place romanilor.
Care este profilul dumneavoastra de clienti?
Bineinteles ca partea cea mai interesanta o constituie romanii, insa nu uitam de turisti, care sunt importanti nu doar pentru cazino, ci pentru Romania in general. Deci daca exista oportunitatea de a invita turisti, de ce sa nu o facem? In special pe cei din apropiere, Turcia, Israel, Arabia Saudita, exceptand problemele. Ar fi mai bine daca autoritatile s-ar gandi la aceste probleme si ar face vizita in Romania mai usoara.
Care e oferta cazinoului?
Incepand de la sloturi,avem sloturi foarte frumoase, un mix extraordinar de echipament, cea mai noua tehnologie, un program de fidelitate. Se poate juca King Kong Cash, care e foarte popular acum, avem cele mai noi automate, gaminatoare. Intr-un cuvant avem cele mai bune si mai noi jocuri. Mixul de masa este cel standard, incepand cu blackjack si poker. Avem si un joc unic ce se numeste poker „Bora Bora ”.
Avem un numar de clienti ce joaca intre ei. Am avut totusi un eveniment organizat de Federatia de Poker care a avut un succes destul de mare.
Care e cel mai important lucru in slujba dumneavoastra?
Serviciul pentru clienti. Oamenii din echipa mea au experienta, multi dintre ei au lucrat numai in Romania, insa altii au lucrat si pe vase de croazier sau in alte tari. Majoritatea sunt romani. Avem si un expert din Letonia. El are o experienta unica, deoarece a mai lucrat in State, Letonia si Rusia. El este unul dintre liderii serviciului cu clientii.
Care este parerea dumneavoastra in legatura cu sistemul de taxe din Romania?
Accizele sunt mari. Romania are prea multe cazinouri si probabil guvernul trebuie sa faca ceva in aceasta privinta. Timpul va decide daca este sau nu o solutie buna. Nu pot sa spun eu asta, pentru ca nu e domeniul meu de activitate. Pot doar sa vad cum afecteaza asta compania mea.
Cum va petreceti timpul liber? Aveti hobbyuri?
Imi petrec putinul timp liber cu familia; ea este un hobby in sine.
Romanian gaming market is challenging. Only the strongest people can survive
Said Viktors Roznieks, General Manager of Olympic Bora Bora Casino
When it was your first contact with this industry?
I started in 1990 when the Soviet Union collapsed and there weren’t any casinos in those days. It seems to be a long time ago. I’m originary from Latvia and the first casino where I’ve worked was Casino Austria in Riga. Then, we were approved by a Turkish group who were looking for expansion in this territory, called Imperial. The official of this company invited the entire group from Latvia to work in Turkey. Actually, I was one of those guys who went to visit Istanbul right from Latvia went to visit Istanbul. I was trained by an English manager and I started to work as dealer. I was 19 years old at that time. It was quite challenging for me. We were impressed of what we saw in Istanbul, a large complex like we see in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, with restaurants, live music and many gaming tables for different players from England, USA, Turkey, Latvia. So, it was actually like an international company who tried to bring things to a completely different level and offer to the Turkish citizens a unique experience, the casino experience. That is to say, it wasn’t a bad time and the gaming volume was very high. And there you could peak extremely good experience in the industry. So I stayed four or five years in Turkey, then I moved to Turkmenistan. My advantage here was that I spoke Turkish, Russian, English, as the country had been under Ottoman occupation and we opened there a very luxurious casino. I had managed it for two years.
After that I came to Romania in 1995. We were the first, after Casino Bucharest from Intercontinental hotel who opened a casino in Stirbei Palace in Buftea area, called Casino West. We started to base only for Israeli groups, respectively tourists, which proved not to be that successful as it was to far away for them to drive. After that, we moved to Dunarea restaurant from Intercontinental – West Cowboy Style Casino, where I had stayed for two years. I was experiencing the Romanian life style, because in 1995-1996 it was the beginning of casinos. I went back to Latvia and worked for another two years in an international company and then I went to USA, on cruise ships for five years, one year in Moscow. In the meantime, we became part of a big family, Olympic Entertainment Group and I was a lucky one, returning to visit again Romania after many years. I had some knowledge concerning the Romanian language, I had many friends here, and I also had an idea of what was had happened ten years ago. Romania was completely different of what we see now. But the times have changed, and the gaming industry also.
We bought Napoleon Casino with a bad reputation and we made all the construction works, which took us one year.
What do you think about the Romanian market these days taking into consideration the crisis?
Unique, interesting and challenging. Only the strongest people can survive.
How do you see the Olympic Casino in general and also in Romania?
In general, Olympic went through the tough times, there’s no question about it – probably wrong investments were made at wrong times or wrong analysis. But we have analyzed, and we decided that some of the things we did in Romania were wrong and must be improved! We started to concentrate on the slots and it proved to be the right decision. And I tell you that soon, we’re going to see some results.
Where do you see Olympic Casino in the future?
In this market, Olympic Casino has its part or role, and offers something interesting to the clients: atmosphere, different approaches, entertainment, shows, and lotteries. I believe that this is what the Romanian society likes.
What is your target of clients?
Of course, the most interesting part is made of Romanians, but we don’t forget about tourism which is an important part, not only for the casino, but in general for Romania itself. So, if there is a potential to invite tourists, why not?! The nearest ones like Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, excepting problems with visa restrictions. It would be better if the authorities thought at these issues and made it easier to visit Romania.
What is the casino’s offer?
Starting with slots, we have beautiful slots, a fantastic mix of machines, the newest technology, a loyalty program. You can play King Kong Cash which is quite popular now, we have the newest automatic machines, gaminators. In one word, we have the newest and the best games. The table mix is the standard that a casino can offer, starting with blackjack, poker. The unique game that we have is “Bora Bora poker”.
Do you organize tournaments?
We have some customers who play between themselves. We run one large event which was organized by Poker Federation and it was quite successful.
Which is the most important thing in your job?
Customer service. The guys from my team have experience, many of them have worked only in Romania, some of them in other countries, on the cruise ships. Most of them are Romanians. We have also one expert who is from Latvia. He has a unique experience, working in the States, Latvia, Russia. He is one of the leaders in the customer service.
What is your opinion about the tax system in Romania?
The excises are high. Romania has too many casinos and probably the Government must to make some steps to solve this problem. Time will decide if it is or not a good decision. I can’t judge this because this is not my jurisdiction. I can only analyze, calculate how this affects my company.
How do you spend your free time? Do you have some hobbies?
I spend the short free time I have beside my family and the hobby is my family itself.