Austrian Times RSS FeedsLike the Austrian Times Facebook page!Follow us on Twitter!


Events for November
M T W T F S S
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Add your event FREE

Today

Videos


BurgKino

Pub Quiz everyTuesday at Johnny's Pub

Popular in Austria


Cosmo&Nanu
Austrian Times Blog

no picture available

Romanian gambling is a sure bet for casinos



Even though I work for an addiction treatment centre and I thought I knew the addiction situation in Romania, where I live, I had no idea that gambling addiction is such a big problem here. But after going to a conference on the issue (organised by Psymotion, a private psychiatric clinic in Bucharest, and a new NGO called the Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling Addiction) I now understand the true scale of the problem.

The statistics are unbelievable: there are more than 10,000 small neighbourhood betting shops and casinos in Romania. An estimated 1.5 million Romanians use these shops and 10% of them are assumed to be compulsive, or addicted, gamblers. This part of the gambling industry turns over a minimum of 1.2 billion Euro a year and, according to what I heard at the conference, the companies involved are able to dodge taxes due to poor enforcement and weak legislation. The online part of this industry is also worth billions, and is totally unregulated and untaxed.

“Out of all the EU Member States,” writes Alexandru Varzaru in the Romanian investigate weekly Kamikaze, “our legislation is the most permissive. Romania has become a heaven for the gambling industry.” He describes walking through Bucharest and seeing betting shops or casinos in virtually every street, and how their number has increased during the recession.

Romania’s government seems unable to stop the uncontrolled expansion of this industry, or collect taxes from it.  I was informed that the Ministry of Finance is only able to collect about 2% of the taxes owed by this industry. They are also unable to enforce the law that forbids gambling operators to advertise -- one of the biggest billboard campaigns currently in Bucharest is for betting shops.

Many of the small betting shops are in villages, where tax officials rarely go, and the big gambling operations use an old trick: they close down one company, complete with big tax bills, and open up a new one. Astra Bettings, one of the biggest chains of betting shops, went bust with debts of 14.5 million Euro. And there are scores of other examples.

Sebastian Bodu, a Member of the European Parliament, tried to bring some order to the gambling sector when he was head of Romania’s tax collection agency ANAF.  He introduced legislation “written in my own hand” that was intended to prosecute companies who closed down one company and then set up another. Unfortunately this law has not been enforced.

Bodu said the casinos and gambling companies were known to “try and avoid taxes in a fraudulent manner...We did a series of big raids in 2005 and 5 or 6 big casinos were temporarily closed and their licences were suspended. A series of court cases followed; we lost some and won some. But in the end none of those big casinos were closed down permanently.”

The number of people using these gambling facilities -- both online and in the neighbourhoods -- has skyrocketed, and the number of gambling addicts is reaching epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, the vast majority of gambling addicts in Romania lack the funds (or the motivation) to go to some form of therapy.  It is also a problem that seems to go unrecognised by the health authorities and the public. It is an invisible epidemic taking place among the poor.

Out of all the addictions, gambling is the one that results in the most suicides. "It's a disease that kills" says Dr Timothy Fong, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, "25% of gamblers who have entered treatment have tried to kill themselves". Compare that figure with drug addicts and alcoholics - of whom about 10 to 15% attempt suicide - and it puts into context how dangerous gambling can be.

Rupert Wolfe Murray is based in Bucharest and is the European Representative of Castle Craig Hospital, a rehab clinic in Scotland.

Austrian Times


Are you on Facebook? Like the Austrian Times on Facebook and win great prizes!


Cosmo and Nanu
ORF Watch

Tag cloud:
shops  Romania  rdquo  addicts  problem  Euro  rsquo  taxes  nbsp  epidemic  gambling  legislation  betting  addiction  ldquo  casinos  Bodu  Bucharest  industry  suicides

Latest News

 

Panda Dies Of Horrific Injuries After Savage Attack
A three-year-old wild Giant Panda left badly wounded in the Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve in China after an attack by yellow-throated martens has died of its wounds.

Food Jewellery Craze In Japan
The designers call it modern art, and claim it is designed for the woman who wants a guarantee she will stand out at the next dinner party.

Darth Vader Taken Out By Street Sign
Darth Vader and a pair of Imperial Stormtroopers felt the force of a blow from a road sign after not paying attention while hitting the campaign trail.

How An Austrian Park Every Year Becomes A Lake
Spectacular images that show how a park becomes a lake each spring complete with underwater trees have been captured by two divers.

Mad About Mammoths At Vienna Museum
A unique exhibition in the Austrian capital Vienna has proved a massive hit after bringing together for the first time some of the most famous frozen woolly mammoth remains.

Controversy Over Advert For Fucking Hell Beer
An Austrian political party has defended a decision to promote a local beer named after the village of Fucking.

Luigi Restaurant Cooks Up Delicious Delights For Winter Season
Brothers Luigi and Leo Doci who own the renowned Luigi restaurant chain will be cooking up a storm in Semmering this winter.

Church Porn Star In Court
A Polish-born woman who made a video of herself masturbating in church is facing six months in jail after a viewer called police when he recognised the woman.

Hugh Grant Cuddles Lamb On Animal Farm With Mrs Glock
Hugh Grant led a star-studded turnout at Austria's animal farm project which unveiled its Christmas market this week.

Cheating Wife Buries Hubby Alive For New Lover
A woman who married her sisterís fiance and then attacked him with a knife before burying him alive so she could be with her new lover is facing life in jail.

 


Mala Vrata

The most popular stories –
last 7 days



Don't moan alone, the Ombudsman Investigates.

Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.

Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.


Austrian Zimmers