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Odeta Nestor, President of the NOG Romania speaks about the current state of the Romanian gambling situation (reprint EEGReport-Magazine)

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Since our last interview, many things have happened and Romania has become one of the largest gambling markets in the region. Congrats for this achievement! How many online operators are there with a valid license and how many are you forecasting for 2016?

Currently, on the Romanian market 19 online gambling operators are legally operating. They obtained the provisional operating right in accordance with Law no. 124/2015, which provided for a transitional period in which operators interested in the potential of the Romanian market can conduct business until the entry into force of new rules for implementing specific gambling legislation.

From the discussions we’ve had, we can say that at least 10 more operators, some of them very large, expressed their intention to license in Romania, but have chosen to wait for the approval of the secondary legislation.

Now, with the entry into force of this new normative act, all gambling organizers, interested in the Romanian market will be able to apply for a full license, valid for 10 years.

The market in Romania is a vast market with significant potential for any organizer who wants to develop lawfully business, with all the advantages guaranteed by law (advantageously taxation, open relationship with the regulator etc.).

From our point of view, any operator wishing to enter the market in Romania in terms of legality, is welcome. About competition was said to be the invisible hand that regulates the market, as an expression of the level of development and diversification of the sector, which makes any customer able to purchase goods and services he needs/wishes, with the highest favorable rates, while also stimulating the manufacturers and the service providers to increase and improve their offer.

 

If we talk about licenses, we must talk about the revoked ones as well, and there is certainly a story that needs to be told. It’s the case of Bet365 and Bwin. What happened and what is the outcome of the situation?

For example, Bet365 asked the Court of Appeal to suspend the decision to revoke the provisional operating right, but the court ruled in favor of NGO. From my point of view, the suspension of the decision is no. 2.723/13th of October 2015 could have induced the idea that each operator can apply the legal provisions in its sole discretion, without considering the rgulations in force rules or the authority.

These are issues to be solved by the institutions with jurisdiction in the matter, in this case the courts. For this reason, I would like not to comment too much on this subject, since the court decisions should be respected, not commented.

I believe that the legislation is very clear and leaves no room for interpretation. The best proof of this is the behavior of other large international operators that have agreed to stop their activity during the period that were not covered by legal documents. Therefore, the fact that some operators have decided to work illegally is effectively just their choice to position themselves above the other actors in the market, above the law and the authorities.

 

On the 24th of February the Romanian Government has changed and amended the implementing rules of the law which governs on the organization and operation of gambling in Romania. What are the key changes that have been amended?

Given the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling, approved with amendments by Law 227/2013, as it was amended by the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014 approved with amendments by Law 124/2015 regulating fiscal measures and modification of certain acts by Government Decision no. 111/2016 establishes the rules that operators must meet to obtain a license and authorization and for the good development of the business of traditional and remote gambling on the national territory.

Also, taking into account the amendments made by the legislation mentioned above, this decision draft establishes the legal provisions governing the detailed the remote (online) gambling and the general conditions on the activity, particular aspects related to participants remote gambling, licensing criteria for the operators of activities related to gambling.

Thereby, there are defined by categories of games, the requirements that a licensed gambling operator of Class I or licensed operators that offer related gambling activities Class II must fulfill and comply with them, both in order to obtain the license and the authorization and subsequently, in conducting the activity, complying with the norms, operational standards and regulations.

The Government Decision no. 111/2016 supplements the primary standard provisions regarding mandatory minimum rules to be respected by the remote gambling operators on the conditions for registration and for playing, protection of players deposits and other measures to protect the participants in the game in order to exclude minors and people with addiction problems.

It also establishes the obligation of undertaking national programs in the field of responsible gambing in order to prevent problem gambling, in an organized manner by setting up a foundation.

Also, this regulation contains provisions and technical measures for both remote (online) gambling and traditional gambling, especially slotmachines.

The new regulation clarifies the payment arrangements for the operators obligations to the state budget, it establishes the deadlines for payment of fees specific to the field, it defines terms used in gambling and sets up operating conditions for the newly introduced types of games (remote gambling and temporary traditional gambling). It also establishes the minimum overall winning percentages.

There were also established the operating conditions for a new type of equipment, AWP (gaming device with limited gain), a recreational equipment that will be installed in bars and that will limit both stakes and winnings.

A legal framework of penalties for non-compliance and to sanction the operators of remote gambling was necessary. Also, it was envisaged a preventive sanctions regime for operators that offer activities related to gambling with direct impact.

 

As we know, the secondary legislation brought an end to the temporary licensing structure and authorized the transition of the 19 provisional licenses to a permanent status. How will future applicants be authorized, do operators need to go thorough a trial period before they receive the permanent license or they will get the permanent license once they apply and comply with the law?

According to the legal provisions, until 31st of December 2015, the Surveillance Committee of the National Gambling Office could grant the  temporary right of organization and operation of remote gambling for economic operators meeting the conditions set out in point a) – l) in art. II, para. (7) of Law no. 124/2015 approving the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 92/2014 regulating fiscal measures and amendment of certain acts.

The temporary operating right, once obtained, is to take effect during the validity period of one year from the grant date, thereafter a license being necessary for the operator to be able to continue his activity in Romania. During the term of this operating right, the organizer is able to apply for the full license, with 10 years validity.

All gambling operators who have shown interest to enter the Romanian market, can get a long-term (10 years) license, as long as they comply with the conditions imposed by law.

 

How is the secondary legislation cataloging the affiliates and how was the decision taken by the operators and their affiliate programs?

According to art. 2 letter b) of the Government Decision no. 111/2016 approving the Methodological Norms for the implementation of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 77/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling and amending and supplementing the Government Decision no. 298/2013 on the organization and functioning of the National Gambling Office, amending the Government Decision no. 870/2009 approving the Methodological Norms for the application of Government Emergency Ordinance no.77/2009 and to repeal Government Decision no. 870/2009 on the organization and operation of gambling, the affiliates are defined as follows: “The natural or legal person, who earns revenues under a contract with an organizer of remote gambling as a result of directing the players participating in a game on the website or platform of the organizer”.

The law was welcomed, including those carrying out gambling related activities. As proof, as soon as there was a legal possibility, they started taking steps to licensing, at the moment some of them already obtaining a license in Romania.

 

Has any of the Romania based affiliates been granted licenses, yet? If so, which ones?

The list of operators that are licensed Class II can be found on the website of our institution, at the following link: http://onjn.gov.ro/approved/.

 

Earlier last month we have written about the land-based to online convergence and it seems that almost all sports betting shops in Romania now have an online sports betting portal as well. How do you comment these moves and are the betting companies seeing larger revenues from the online market?

Several global leaders such as PokerStars or Betfair activate on the online and sport betting market in Romania. The online segment of this market cumulates several hundred million euros and is in accelerated growth.

The online market in Romania is an attractive business environment. Among the advantages that our country has in this respect, we mention a very good internet connection, quality manpower and their salaries, the IT specialists.

That does not mean that the traditional gaming market will suffer. As I repeatedly have said, it is about different types of consumer and studies that were conducted in countries like Italy, Spain and France are evidencing that regulating the online segment has not significantly affected the traditional gaming market.

 

Looking further ahead, do you think that new emerging markets should take the example of the Romanian legislation?

The year 2015 accounted for the National Gambling Office the premises to create a strong and stable industry.

Although there were legal provisions that regulated online gambling, they were rigid and not adapted to market developments.

Now, with the implementation of the latest amendments, Romania is among the European countries with the best regulations in the field of online gambling.

If we are seen as a role model, this can only make us happy, because it is a new confirmation that our work is a good one.

 

As a closing question, we would like to know and I’m sure all our readers will appreciate if you would share what are your plans for 2016.

As always, we will try to be present at all major events in the field. The Romanian market is a potential market of interest to large operators, and therefore, we will use all communication channels in order to make the new legislative provisions known and understood and to show the potential that our country has for this industry.

 

 

Bulgaria

Casino Technology announces Valentina Dobre as new Regional Director for Romania

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Gaming equipment manufacturer Casino Technology has announced a new appointment for Romania to further strengthen the company’s management.

Following its steady plan for continuous market growth, the company named Valentina Dobre as Regional Director for Romania as of 1st of August 2017.

The company claims with Mrs Dobre’s profound expertise, professional background and in-depth knowledge of the gaming industry in the country, she became part of Casino Technology team, ready to implement the overall corporate strategy.

Valentina Dobre commented: “I am honored to accept this position and be part of the high level management team of Casino Technology. I will pursue actively further company positioning and growth on the Romanian market. Casino Technology has been on the country’s market for over 10 years and proved to be leader, having maintained trusted partnerships with local operators and customers.”

Casino Technology stated that Mrs Dobre’s background as Member of the Board of Directors at Romslot Association, Bucharest will additionally increase the Casino Technology market share.

“Valentina Dobre is an important appointment as she brings extensive knowledge of the market, that will help us boost even more our presence in Romania. She will have a crucial role in our further expansion, launching successfully our new line products on the market”, concluded Milo Borissov, Founder, President and CEO of Casino Technology.

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Bulgaria

Two major announcements from BEGE Expo and EEGS: Mark your calendars

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The Balkan Entertainment & Gaming Expo (BEGE Expo) and the Eastern European Gaming Summit (EEGS) celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. Due to the big interest for both events the organizers made two major announcements – BEGE will outspread in one more hall and EEGS will start one day earlier than the announced date.

Over 50 leading companies from the industry have already confirmed their presence for BEGE Expo 2017. Well-known leading manufacturers, amongst them being Novomatic, Casino Technology, EGT, Suzohapp, BetConstruct, Interblock, Merkur Gaming, APEX, Alfastreet Trade, Nsoft, JPL and CPI, as well as new participants, such as the leading sports betting company Bet3000 (IBA-Entertainment Ltd.), EXEFEED, Quixant, Zitro, Change Italia s.r.l., Gamebridge Casino Equipment, JCM Europe GmbH, nano Vo sp. Z o.o., Berkotech Kft. and others will exhibit their latest solutions at this year’s BEGE. The great interest for the event forced the opening of new hall, thus making the 10th edition of BEGE Expo the biggest so far.

The registration is already open so you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to register.

Another newness that BEGE Expo 2017 will present is the special Affiliate zone. Following the expansion of the online business in the region, this year the exhibiton will create space for online operators and affiliates from the region to interact and create business partnerships. Affiliate program providers will be able to book their own space in the zone and all affiliates will be admitted for free.

EEGS also promises to reach new heights this year. Reschedule your calendars, because EEGS 2017 will start on 20th of November – one day earlier than intended. This year’s EEGS will continue to follow its main aim – to present the most recent updates from the region, including the countries Serbia, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia, Montenegro, F.Y.R of Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Turkey and Croatia.

Separate sessions will be dedicated to Sport Challenges, Impact on gaming operators by Anti-Money Laundering Act, GDPR and online gaming. Day 3 will be focused on Tourism & Gaming, Responsible Gaming Academy and marketing topics.

BEGE Expo and EEGS have gradually established as a center for the gaming and entertainment industry in Eastern Europe and for 10th year in a row will be the place where professionals from the field come in order to expand their business, exchange knowledge and promote new products. For any updates you may follow the official websites of the events: eegamingsummit.com and balkangamingexpo.com

 

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EEG Reports

Habanero signs an outstanding deal with BBIN

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A new partnership agreement will see content from quality slots and table games developer Habanero go live with the BBIN Group.

Under the agreement, the supplier will give the software company access to its complete product portfolio of HTML5 games for all of its white label sites.

Recent releases from Habanero, including Fire Rooster, Bird of Thunder, and Panda Panda, have also been made available to the aggregator.

Daniel Long, Head of Sales at Habanero, said the deal was a game-changer for the supplier and one of the company’s most important to date.

He added: “By partnering with BBIN, we have significantly expanded our presence around the world, which means even more players will be able to enjoy our games.

“Many of them will be a natural fit with BBIN’s customers, but it is the diversity and variety of content that will appeal the most.”

Habanero operates a stable of 75 video slots titles, 9 table games, and 50 video poker titles, which are integrated into over 45 operators and aggregators and available in 21 European and Asian languages.

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