EEGReport Magazine :What are the key updates regarding Responsible Gambling in Romania and what steps are taken to implement it?
Valentina Dobre: The responsible gambling subject is a growing topic in Romania, catching the eyes of both authorities and operators.
One of the key updates on the matter is the new gambling legislation, which stipulates that a national Fund and a public interest Foundation will be created. Its main objective will be to respect the measures on socially responsible gambling. A fund will be set up and all licensed operators will be required to contribute to it. The amounts collected by the Gambling Addiction Prevention Fund will be used among others for protection programs, prevention and treatment of gambling addiction and responsible gambling advertising. All the activities will be developed under the conditions and in accordance with the procedure established by the Romania’s National Gambling Office President.
Moreover, the operators’ interest in responsible gambling is growing. ROMSLOT, the association which I represent and the strongest voice of slot machines industry in Romania and Romanian Bookmakers, the most representative betting association in our country, developed the “Responsible Gambling” program, which is the only functional responsible gaming program in Romania. The program offers a free of charge HELPLINE, through which the gamblers can contact a psychologist and receive free telephone counseling, free evaluation and counseling sessions at one of the program’s practices in Bucharest, Iasi and Cluj, online self-testing on www.jocresponsabil.ro, awareness materials in gaming halls and training courses for employees held by the program’s psychologists.
The program evolved a lot since it was founded in 2012 as new psychologists joined the project, among them the most famous psychologist in Romania, Dr. Cristian Andrei. Our last event success, a practical workshop dedicated to gambling operators, proves the interest that the industry takes in social responsibility. The event offered information for a better management of potential problems occurring in gaming halls and more than 50 operators took part in the workshop.
EEGReport Magazine: In your opinion, is there a need for a common legislation regarding Responsible Gambling across the EU? Please debate why so or not?
Valentina Dobre: Taking into consideration the fact that there is no sector-specific EU legislation for gambling services and each country is allowed to elaborate its own gambling legislation, it is hard to believe that there could be soon a common legislation regarding Responsible Gambling across the EU. But, if in the near future a common legislation is unlikely, a solution could be a set of rules and practices promoted among the European countries. A good example is EUROMAT’s responsible gambling policy, embraced by all its members. The development of such policies could represent a real help for the countries less evolved in this field.
Nevertheless, responsible gambling should be one the key concerns of the gambling industry and it is important that each country encourages through its legislation the development of social responsibility projects.
EEGReport Magazine: You’ve recently attended the Eastern European Gaming Summit where you have represented ROMSLOT and may have probably discussed with many of the industry leaders in terms of Responsible Gambling. How are the experts rating the recent developments of the Romanian Responsible Gambling steps that have been taken?
Valentina Dobre: The Eastern European Gaming Summit was a great opportunity to get an update on Responsible Gambling subject across Europe. I was happy to notice that ROMSLOT efforts towards social responsibility were noticed and appreciated by the experts that attended the event. Moreover, other countries showed their interest in organizing similar projects. One of the most appreciated project was the “Las Vegas Night Out” campaign, which challenged four of the most visible bloggers in Romania, with tens of thousands of readers and followers on Social Media, to spend a few hours in a gaming hall and to describe on their blogs the whole experience. The campaign promoted the idea of individual responsibility and sent a clear message: gambling must be seen only as a form of an entertainment and not as a source of making money.
EEGReport Magazine: You have an extensive experience in the Romanian casino industry. How do you feel about the recent developments in Romania, in terms that the online sector has been enabled, did it have a huge impact on the land-based casinos?
Valentina Dobre: One of the major changes brought by the new Romanian gambling law refers to online gambling. The legal framework introduced new online regulations and allows operators to apply for a license, which resulted in over 15 companies being authorized last year.
But, even though until the introduction of the new law, no operators were licensed, the online gambling in Romania doesn’t represent a new market, as it existed before, but without a legal base. Thus, it is not a new competitor for the land based operators, but it does allow the development of a business in a legal environment.
EEGReport Magazine: Responsible Gambling is a huge topic in every country’s agenda, especially in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe. Which country has taken the most essential steps towards creating a safe environment for the players and could be looked at as an example by neighboring countries?
Valentina Dobre: It is great that responsible gambling is such an important topic in every country’s agenda. In our association we try not to follow a particular example, but to take what’s best from each model. Thus, we organized a best practices exchange workshop, at which representatives from Italy and UK took part. Moreover, we focus on the way other Euromat members deal with problem gambling. We noticed that most responsible gambling initiatives are in fact self-regulation measures taken by the industry.
I strongly believe that every country should be aware of the fact that the authorities and the industry must work together in order to succeed and a partnership between them is the key to a responsible environment.
Valentina Dobre is Vice-President of Romslot-Slot Organizers’ Association and Managing Director at Merkur Entertainment Romania- slot-machines operator. She has over 12 years of experience in gambling industry and she has been heavily involved on strategic and commercial level regarding sales, marketing, administrative and operational activities. As vice president ROMSLOT, she constantly engaged in social responsibility actions of the industry and she supported strengthening of the “Responsible Gambling” Program.
Master Degree International Management and Marketing (2011), Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest
Bachelor’s Degree Management (2007), Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest
Certifications: Project, Sales, Trainer (2010-2011)
Mobile: +40 732 222 167
Address: Bucharest, 180 Gheorghe Titeica Str.