ROMANIA

Coronavirus pandemic has set back the Romanian gambling industry by five years

According to the data from the National Institute of Statistics (INS), the coronavirus pandemic has set back the Romanian gambling industry by five years.  Gambling operators in Romania experienced one of the most severe declines of the last 30 years between March and May this year. The local gambling and entertainment industry fell by about 24% in March 2020 compared to the same period of 2015. The gambling sector’s March turnover was only 57 % of February’s, which means that the entire sector sank by close to half within a single month. Then, in April and May, gambling businesses reported almost zero revenue.

“Given the situation, we made the necessary business continuity decisions and decided that the safety of our customers and employees was our main priority. We focused on the long-term business principles and we organized our activity so that we would be able to adapt as quickly as possible to the multitude of changes that occurred during this period. For example, over the past three months we went from “closed until further notice” to being open round the clock and then back to limited opening hours (until 11 PM, later extended to midnight), and we hope to be able to return to our non-stop hours as soon as possible. During all this time, we’ve been focusing on communicating with our clients and employees, for whom we’ve taken extra health and safety measures. Maintaining communication with professional associations and the authorities for accurate information on the latest developments concerning gambling halls was equally important,” says Attila “Otto” Török, Game World Romania strategy director.

According to the latest data provided by the National Gambling Office (ONJN), 250 gambling operators are currently active on the Romanian market. They contribute about EUR 600 million to the state budget every year. At the beginning of 2020, there were about 45,000 direct employees of the local gambling industry and a few other thousand worked in related and dependent fields. “According to Romslot data, for each RON the Romanian gambling industry generates, the upstream and downstream industries – HoReCa, IT&C, security – generate another 5 RON,” notes Török. He adds that Game World currently has about 400 employees, while the parent group has a workforce of about 2,000.

When talking about the biggest challenges the gambling industry is now facing, Török says these are related to the coronavirus pandemic and the health crisis, even though all operators have strictly implemented all the measures required by authorities to limit the spread of the virus.

“Still, we are indirectly affected by restrictions imposed in other fields like HoReCa, event planning, sports competitions, and tourism. Along these, client behavior has changed,” Török explains, adding: “Figures show a drop in the time spent gambling as well as in the frequency of visits to gambling halls. In this context, we shall see whether and how gambling operators will adapt and manage to pay their taxes and cover the costs related to wages, rent, and operations over the next few months.”

Source: Business Review

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