Dan Iliovici is an industry professional with an extensive track record in the gambling industry. He is the Vice President of the Romanian Gambling Organizers’ Association and of the Responsible Gambling Association in the country. In his role, Iliovici has garnered the insight that is needed to make the industry safer. Iliovici is also one of the judges for the upcoming Casino Guru Awards. We caught up with Dan ahead of the event and picked his brain on industry regulation, what needs to be done, and if we are even closer to the end goal yet.
Q: Dan, you work in an interesting market, and you have dedicated a considerable effort and part of your career in helping Romania uphold responsible gambling standards. Can you tell us if, in your experience, the country has created a framework that can serve as an example to other jurisdictions?
Unfortunately, I have no such an example regarding a good regulation on responsible gambling. Some EU countries have adopted very strict regulation on advertising, on setting limits etc., without any evidence on how these restrictions may have the desired effect on gambling problem.
Other jurisdictions have a more permissive gambling regulatory framework, but there are ongoing initiatives and proposals to restrict, or even ban advertising or gambling altogether.
I believe in collaboration, discussion between all stakeholders: operators, regulator, mass-media, to achieve the best RG objectives – education, prevention, and effective treatment of gambling related harm.
Q: You have been working on a number of responsible gambling project with the idea of making the industry more transparent. In your ten years of experience, what has changed in terms of responsible gambling?
There are more and more operators that recognize that RG has to be a core part of their business. This may also change the general public perception on gambling. Or it should do so…
In Romania we have established the Responsible Gaming Association, entirely financed by the operators, either directly or through the main industry associations, ROMBET, Romslot and Romanian Bookmakers. Here we have a strong educational program for youngsters, and recently we have added a training program for operators’ personnel which is in direct contact with players.
There is also a 24/7 online chat and a free toll Helpline with specialized psychologists. For more severe cases we offer free assessment and treatment sessions.
Q: You wrote "The Ethical Code on Advertising in Gambling." Do you believe that the industry can truly come to a universal understanding about what is ethical when advertising and what is not? We see different markets that are at a different level of maturity and development all over the world.
A non-mandatory code of conduct may have limited effect if not adopted and, more importantly, respected by all industry. Otherwise, the impact will not be effective, and it may create competitive advantages for those who advertise without any (self)control.
The good part is that, even if not embraced by all operators, such a code of conduct shows a commitment for responsible advertising practices. And it may also bring some pressure on those who are reluctant into embracing such a code and bring them on the good side.
A code of conduct may also be a good starting point for a mandatory regulation on advertising in gambling.
Q: As part of the Casino Guru Awards team of judges, what would you specifically expect from applicants to get your vote?
Firstly, I am honored to be part of this jury. Thank you for considering me as a trustful and impartial member of Casino Guru Awards team.
What are my expectations for a good RG project?
Ideally, this should be based on evidence; its effect should be measurable. But I acknowledge this is hard, if not impossible, in many cases. Anyway, if there will be possible to have an impartial assessment of the effects of a project, this will give a strong plus.
Focus on education and prevention should be also a desirable point. Treatment is far more costly than prevention, in terms of effectiveness and social costs. Protecting children and other vulnerable groups should be another priority. I will also consider the previous applicants’ experience, especially in similar projects.
Q: The future of responsible gambling – are we getting closer to a future in which gamblers are protected and gambling-related harm is eliminated?
Entirely eliminating gambling related harm is not possible, in my opinion. And this has many causes. But having strong prevention and education programs, with good measurable effects, should help in keeping problem gambling under control.
A balanced regulatory framework is also a key aspect. Banning advertising or, even worse, banning some forms of gambling it is not the way to go. The illegal market, the unregulated operators are always at the corner. We should have a balanced regulation, which should be more attractive for operators and players than going offshore.
Collaboration, sitting together at the same table – regulators, politicians, operators, players, the mass-media, all should have their perspective taken into consideration when legislation is discussed.Thank you!
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