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Georgia – Casinos Austria International to develop Batumi casino

By - 14 January 2015

Casinos Austria International is to launch a casino in the Black sea port of Batumi in Georgia where it hopes to attract players from Russia, Iraq and Turkey; three countries where casinos have been banned.

Casinos Austria General Manager Karl Stoss revealed the plan as he defended the Austrian operator following public criticism from Rudolf Kemler, Head of State Asset managing company ÖIAG, who claims the state-owned casino group needs restructuring.

Whilst not giving any further details; away regarding the future Batumi casino, Mr. Stoss claimed Casinos Austria was moving in the right direction increasing its year-on-year revenues at its 12 domestic casinos by 2.5 per cent in 2014. Visitation was up 6.5 per cent whilst VLT operations increased by 15 per cent and domestic lottery results by two per cent.

Domestic investment would this year reach €20m with second stage of expansion work at the country’s number one casino, Casino Bregenz, set to get underway. In Kärntner Straße in Vienna, the operator opened a restaurant whilst Velden was also expanded. A large scale renovation will also take place at Klessheim Palace in Salzburg. The operator also opened a new WinWin branded VLT venue in Zell am in Salzburg.

“Our strategy is to increase efficiency, reduce costs and strengthen sales,” Mr. Stoss explained. “In 2015, there will be new games and we will continue to expand the casino restaurants even further.
He highlighted that increases had come during difficult times when international revenues had suffered from a licence revocation in Argentina, which has been referred to the arbitration court of the World Bank in Washington. Casinos Austria is asking for US$250m in damages.

It also lost a successful lottery in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan last year, as Russia prohibited private lotteries in July 2014. Mr. Stoss added though that there had been several positives for the company recently. It has also launched a VLT operation in Macedonia and the signing of a management contract for a casino near the Greek border. It is also looking to offload its Australian assets to Hong Kong investor Tony Fung. Whilst the sale is currently suspended, Mr. Stoss revealed that the competent authorities would allow the deal to be completed in spring this year. He hasn’t ruled out the company’s international operating arm Casinos Austria International taking on the operation of the casino once the group has sold it.

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