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


Events for September
M T W T F S S
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 1 2 3 4 5
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:
problem  legislation  Romania  industry  rsquo  shops  nbsp  Bodu  casinos  ldquo  taxes  suicides  Euro  betting  rdquo  addiction  epidemic  gambling  addicts  Bucharest

Latest News

 

Pat On The Back From Manure Explosive
A traffic cop in Austria got more than he bargained for after a booby trap covered him head-to-toe in manure as he was trying to catch people speeding.

Viennese Jihad Girl May Have Been Killed
Austrian police say that one of the two attractive young teenage girls who fled the country to go to Syria to fight on the side of Islamic rebels may have been killed.

Perversion of a Medical Dream
The Decline and Fall of the Otto Wagner Hospital, Vienna.

Fat Can Be Used To Burn Off Weight After New Patent Unveiled
It is being hailed as a sensation after scientists at an Austrian university patented a method that transforms fat storing cells into mini factories capable of actually destroying fat by burning it off.

Three Family Members Dead In Well Tragedy
A mother has lost her husband, her pregnant daughter and her son-in-law after a tragic accident where one of them fell into a well and the other two died while trying to carry out a failed rescue.

Brit Soldier Rescued After Climbing Mountain In T Shirt
A British soldier who tackled the frozen Austrian Alps wearing just shorts and a T-shirt has been rapped by officials after he had to be rescued from the snowy peak.

Mum And Daughter Struck By Lightning In Pool
A mother and her daughter were hospitalised after they were struck by lightning – in a swimming pool.

Police Nab Porn Star Who Filmed In Local Church
A woman accused of making a porn movie in a local church has been caught after an informant tipped off police that he recognised her by her breasts after an appeal for information.

Young Hip Hop Dancer Gets 18 Years For Drug Smuggling
A blonde hip hop dancer and charity worker promised an international career after she was spotted by a talent scout has been jailed for 18 years in Indonesia after her work offer turned out to have been part of an elaborate drugs con.

Teen Dying Of Cancer Killed At Charity Event After Ride In Porsche Goes Wrong
The family of a sick boy who was offered a trip in a high-performance Porsche because he was dying of cancer is suing the charity after the Porsche he was travelling in crashed head-on into oncoming traffic.

 


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