Austria’s Minister of Finance has proposed the establishment of an independent gambling regulator, whose will be tasked with being in charge with market regulations in the country.
While speaking on the country’s television, Gernot Blümel stated that the need for an independent regulator will help the country untangle multiple functions that are currently under the treasury. He was discussing the country’s current state of affairs with regards to gambling monopolies, which have been mired by scandals over the past few months.
There have been allegations that suggest the operator’s appointment of Peter sidlo as the chief financial officer, was designed to guarantee that Novomatic would receive political favor.
Based on information made available by a whistle blower, Novomatic currently holds 17.19 percent stake in Casinos Austria, and the firm was hopping to secure a license to run a casino in Vienna. This would have meant that Casinos Austria would no longer operate as a monopoly.
But, all involved parties have denied these allegations.
Following this scandal, Novomatic decided to offload its stake to a Czech gambling conglomerate, Sazka Group, which currently has a 38 percent stake in Casinos Austria. Both firms felt that sharing control had not led to the desired result.
Transfer of stake would mean that Sazka will own majority stake, ahead of the planned public investment body (Österreichische Beteiligungs), which will retain about 33 percent. Although Sazka promised to ensure that the Österreichische Beteiligungs would have ample representation in Casinos Austria’s executive boards, the new deal has generated concerns that tax and jobs might be lost.
The finance ministry’s intervention has come at a time when Austria’s gambling trade association called for the termination of the Casinos Austria’s monopoly.