SPD raises questions over "suspicious" WestSpiel accounts

7 July 2020

A special session of the parliament in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen will meet on Friday 10 July to address what the Social Democratic Party (SPD) called “suspicious balance sheet tricks” to facilitate the privatisation of Westdeutsche Spielbanken (WestSpiel).

The party requested a special session of the Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee that would allow it to ask a number of urgent questions to the state government.

It claims that the ruling Christian Democratic Union and Free Democratic Party government want to privatise WestSpiel "at all costs". The SPD claimed that research suggested that this extended to skewing the figures to make the business seem a more attractive investment.

The privatisation of WestSpiel - currently owned by state bank NRW.Bank - has been in motion since 2018, with legislation facilitating this finally passing in June this year.

“We therefore have a number of questions in which the state government urgently needs to clarify matters regarding WestSpiel," the SPD said. "The special meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee provides an opportunity to do this.”

While WestSpiel hasn’t announced its 2019 figures to the public in full, it said in its 2019 sustainability report that it made €136.8m in gross gaming revenue in 2019, up 27.0% year-on-year. WestSpiel paid €65.8m in taxes for the year, up 30.6%.

WestSpiel currently operates six casinos, including four in Nordrhein-Westfalen, in Aachen, Bad Oeynhausen and Dortmund, with the final venue, Casino Duisburg, operating via a subsidiary. It also operates two casinos in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. Two additional venues may be constructed by the business’ private owner under the legislation passed in June.