Germany: Decision to be made this month on Westspiel privatisation

The decision of whether to privatise the Westspiel group, as planned by the state government, will be discussed in the state parliament next week.

The SPD Group has requested a quarter of an hour for the Budget and Finance Committee to discuss the matter. The state-owned casino group runs four casinos in Aachen, Dortmund, Duisburg and Bad Oeynhausen and wants to open a fifth casino in Cologne. The decision of whether to sell or not will be made on May 8 in the state cabinet. In 2015, Westspiel made a loss €8.5m followed by a loss of €2.9m in 2016.

The Gauselmann Group headquartered in Espelkamp in the far northeast of North Rhine-Westphalia has been linked by some observers to a potential purchase. Its subsidiary, Merkur Spielbanken, won a tender for the operation of two casinos in Saxony-Anhalt in 2013.

The conversations in parliament will focus on securing tax levels and the future Cologne licence.

Westspiel has been looking for a new location for the planned casino following unforeseen problems with the subsoil. Westspiel is believed to have uncovered a subway shaft and an old Prussian fortification wall under the site.

Way back in 2013, Cologne was selected by the state government as the new home for the fifth Westspiel-Casino in North Rhine-Westphalia when it beat off competition from Münster, Dusseldorf, Neuss and Koenigswinter.

The aim was to build the biggest casino in Germany capable of attracting 400,000 visitors annually.