Eye on Europe

20 March 2006

Exit? -- For people who can not get enough, here follows the latest (and last?) news from the Romanian Lottery: The Ministry of Finance, by now you should know his household name, Sebastian Vladescu, has dismissed the lottery's president, Nicolae Cristea, who is also member of the European Lotteries executive committee and finance and organization commissioner. The board of trustees of the Romanian Lottery also got its discharge. Liliana Ghervasuc, president of the Romanian National Agency for Export Control has replaced Cristea. The new president is 37 years old, and a graduate of the Financial and Accounting Management Faculty at Spiru Haret University. The "accounting" seems to be an important capacity in the gambling industry. In the meantime, the National Tax Administration is looking into the books to find financial irregularities. Cristea, by the way, remains a member of the lottery's staff. But for how long?

Watchdog For FDJ -- The French government passed a new Decree (No. 2006-174) that updates the legal framework for the organization and exploitation of lottery games. The main goal of the decree is to clarify the objectives that Française des Jeux (FJD), the state-owned lottery operator, has to fulfill when organizing and offering lottery games to its consumers. The new objectives focus on preventing the occurrence of potential gambling-related adverse effects (addiction, underage gambling, etc.). Now FJD, member of the European Lotteries, has to submit its plans for new products to the French budget ministry for approval each year. The company will have to provide a description of the games concerned, along with details of the expected turnover and the likely impact that they will have. Furthermore, within six months, FDJ will have to provide details of an action plan for preventing excessive gambling and encouraging responsible use of its services. The European Betting Association (EBA) welcomes this long overdue clarification. It seems that after nearly 50 years of operation for FDJ, the "inventor" of EuroMillions, the French government has raised consumer protection to the top of the national monopoly's list of priorities. Didier Dewyn, secretary general of the EBA, comments: "Given the global nature of gambling, a monopoly cannot certainly achieve efficient consumer protection. Rapid technological developments have brought down borders and globalized in an unprecedented way the provision of gambling services creating common threats to consumers in all member states. Only EU regulation of the gambling sector applying throughout the 25 member states could ensure real and efficient consumer protection." FDJ turnover in 2005 was 8.9 billion euro, up 4.3 percent compared to 2004.

Polish Bedlam -- After the parliamentary elections in Poland some four months ago, the winning Law and Justice Party (PiS) replaced the entire supervisory board of the Totalizator Sportowy Spólka z o.o.(TSS) with its own candidates, which according to the Court of Registration, was unlawful. This is asking for problems. The court thought the same of removing the name of former TSS Chairman Miroslaw Roguski from the register, stating that the prime minister was not in a position to make such a decision. Artur Pilka, well known in Poland as chief of sports in the office of the city of Warsaw and a member of the supervisory board of TSS, was in the pipeline for the post of the chairman of TSS; however, Wojciech Jasinski, the deputy treasury minister, wants to surpass Pilka. The reason: Pilka allegedly had access to information regarding the other candidates' applications. The selection process was canceled, and a new one initiated. I would not be surprised if someone from the PiS becomes the new president of TSS. Further, I have to inform you that Poland is a member of the European Union, with a substantial market of 38.5 million inhabitants. On the 2005 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Poland is positioned on at No. 74. Burkina Faso, Croatia, Egypt and Lesotho are ranked respectively as Nos. 70, 71, 72 and 73. TSS is a member of the European Lotteries. I'm giving you this background information because we'll be reporting on this Polish bedlam in coming weeks.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.