WestSpiel: Irregularities in balance sheets?
In North Rhine-Westphalia people are busy in the household been with WestSpiel Casinos for quite a while now. The never-ending drama about the casinos is now entering a new act. The stumbling block is an initiative by the SPD. This has requested a special session in the budget and finance committee of the federal state, since several tricks and deceptions are apparently suspected in WestSpiel's balance sheets. So, according to the accusation by the SPD, they tried to speed up the sale of the casinos. The Social Democrats are still against the privatization of state or state-owned casinos.
Real trouble for WestSpiel and the state government?
Again once again, a lot of politics in North Rhine-Westphalia revolves around the WestSpiel Casinos. Actually, the privatization of the state-owned casinos should be done quickly. It has been clear for a long time that this will not work. Now background noises are once again attracting attention. In this case, the SPD set up a special commission in the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament, since the party suspected balance sheet tricks at WestSpiel, which were intended to accelerate privatization. The renewed debate was originally triggered by a report by “Spiegel”. He researched that wrong informationpension provisions. Likewise, some questions about a state guarantee for the football club FC Schalke 04 are open. WestSpiel and the state government in Dusseldorf are therefore in need of explanations. had obviously been given in the
Stefan Zimkeit, who is the SPD's financial policy spokesman in the state parliament, explained that investigations had shown that the figures were distorted,to make the takeover of casinos more attractive for private companies to appear. According to Zimkeit, the governing coalition wants to push through the privatization of the WestSpiel casinos at any price.
SPD demands more information
All in all, the SPD is primarily concerned with obtaining more information. On the one hand, this applies to the special session of the budget and finance committee, where, according to the party, some fundamental questions have to be clarified again. In addition, Zimkeit would also like more information about the subject of FC Schalke 04. You have to find out in parliament whether the state government really wants to take such a high risk with a guarantee to help a Bundesliga football club financially. In addition, it should be clarifiedwhat risk there is for taxpayers, what the current status of the negotiations is and what the guarantee program should look like in concrete terms.
That guarantee recently caused heated discussions. FC Schalke 04 is in a very bad financial position, and now a state guarantee is supposed to provide the club with a loan. If this cannot be covered by the club, the country would have to step in. The main argument of the football club: You are a huge employer.
The recent positive development in connection with the privatization of casinos is causing trouble. Although the figures for 2019 have not yet been presented, according to the sustainability report of the casinosgross income of around 136.8 million euros can be expected in 2019. That would be an increase of 27 percent compared to the previous year. This also affects the budget in NRW. In 2019, WestSpiel paid a good 65.8 million euros in taxes. In 2018 it was around 30 percent less. For critics like the SPD, another argument that one should not separate from the casinos.
Will the Gauselmann Group take over the casinos?
In the last few months, the federal state has arrived at the Gauselmann Group from Espelkamp in search of a potential buyer. A little over a year ago, she had declined with thanks and explained that the casinos were not attractive enough for a takeover. However, the state government has revised the "WestSpiel package" again since then. The new operator may take over all six casino locations. This includes four locations in North Rhine-Westphalia and two locations in the state of Bremen. Apparently, the offer only became really attractive becausethe new owner may build two more locations. And at any location according to his taste.
A change that is said to have caused the company from Espelkamp to take a serious interest in the WestSpiel casinos. A “transfer” to the Gauselmann Group is becoming more and more likely, not least because of the close contact between founder Paul Gauselmann and Düsseldorf.The Gauselmann Group has been the official sports sponsor of the city of Düsseldorf since 2018. The Fortuna Düsseldorf stadium also bears a name specified by Gauselmann, the “Merkur Spiel-Arena”.
Employees disappointed with the state government
In the context of a possible privatization, it is often forgotten that the employees also have to reckon with some changes. That is probably the case here too.1,000 casino workers fear that they could lose their jobs in the event of privatization. However, the fears and worries would hardly or not at all be considered by the state government. Although the numbers have also developed well again in recent years, there has not been a salary increase since 2015. Instead, in the eyes of the management, the employees should now even work two and a half hours more per week and at the same time forego their regular protection against dismissal. A number of issues are still unresolved and must be answered before privatisation. The state government has a lot of work to do – and not just through the special committee.