SAZKA commits to ‘package deal’ safeguarding Casinos Austria concerns

Czech gambling conglomerate SAZKA Group has agreed to terms on a ‘cooperation agreement’ with Austrian state fund Österreichische Beteiligungs (ÖBAG) related to the ownership structure of Casinos Austria.

ÖBAG had come under fire from Austrian political parties for not using its ‘pre-emption rights’ to challenge SAZKA’s bid to secure a majority +50% stake in Casinos Austria.

Last summer, maintaining a 37% stake in Casinos Austria, SAZKA governance agreed terms with Novomatic AG to acquire a further 17.2% stake in the Austrian gambling incumbent.

ÖBAG and Novomatic was criticised for allowing SAZKA to take majority control of Casinos Austria – the operating firm of ‘Osterreichische Lotterien’ Austria’s national lottery.

Challenging SAZKA’s motives, Austria’s Social Democrats (SPO) said that SAZKA had been given free rein to takeover Austria’s national lottery without any form of regulatory oversight and commitments to Casinos Austria’s 3,000 staff.

This week, an under pressure Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel stated that the governing Austrian Peoples Party (OVP) would deliver a ‘deal package’ satisfying all stakeholders.

ÖVP is reported to have instructed ÖBAG to waive its pre-emption rights, allowing SAZKA to purchase its majority stake in Casino Austria, which the Czech conglomerate will limit to a 51.8% stake.

Protecting ‘Osterreichische Lotterien’, SAZKA commits to jointly operating Casinos Austria lottery unit for a period of 15-years, in which SAZKA can service no rival to the Austrian National Lottery.

Casinos Austria will maintain its headquarters and business functions in Vienna maintaining all current staff and operations.

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