Liechtenstein wants to slow down casinos – economy

There is no lack of pathos. “A place full of elegance and triumphant moments” is the “Circus Maximus”, affirm its creators. “Surrounded by magical mountain landscapes” unite your establishment “in an elegant atmosphere of stories of happiness”. No one can verify this, however, as the casino named after Antiquity is closed. It is clearly visible on an artery in the Liechtenstein community of Schaan; the big kitsch gold bunker looks like a foreign body in the alpine environment.

For several months, it has also been a case for justice, it will be heard on August 25 before the Princely Regional Court of the capital Vaduz. The prosecution instituted proceedings against a person responsible for breaching the law on gambling and unfair competition. The casino is owned by a Liechtenstein company, behind which is apparently a German gambling entrepreneur. She has over 30 years of experience in the slot machine, card table and roulette industry. He left questions from the SZ about its activities in Liechtenstein and the prosecution’s accusations unanswered.

The whole case is an exceptional one as gambling dens in Liechtenstein have so far been at least politically welcome. Measured by its 38,000 inhabitants, the principality is the country with the highest density of casinos in Europe. Five of these facilities have opened here since 2017; at least five are expected to be added in the foreseeable future. One of them even in a central location, in the “Central” building in the middle of the small pedestrian area of ​​Vaduz. In the future, the games will be held there on two floors with mirrored windows, diagonally across two museums of European standing.

The gadget doesn’t quite meet the country’s standards, many Liechtensteiners believe. They worry about the reputation of the state, which is doing a lot to stop it being seen internationally as a shabby haven for tax evaders and money launderers. Being the number one gambling den on the continent, even before Monte-Carlo, does not really correspond to the image of a serious and princely financial center.

After critical voices multiplied from all parties, the government recently reacted. In order to counter the “unwanted developments which show a trend towards gambling halls”, it has significantly increased the State’s participation in gross gaming revenues, that is to say the difference between the bets made by the players. and the earnings paid to them. From January 2022, the growth rate will drop from 2.75 to 5.5%. A large casino like the one in Schaanwald right at the Feldkirch border crossing in Austria should expect 460,000 Swiss francs more in taxes from 2022, writes the regional Wirtschaft newspaper, the equivalent of 425,000 euros.

Open detailed view

Is this what a jackpot looks like? The Schaanwald casino near the Austrian border.

(Photo: Uwe Ritzer)

In addition, the government has announced clear guidelines for the training of casino staff and negotiations with neighboring Switzerland on the exchange of blacklists, on which are registered the names of gambling addicts with prohibition of access to the establishments concerned. . “The government sees these adjustments as the appropriate first step to bring about market consolidation and ensure high-quality gaming operations,” said Minister of the Economy Sabine Monauni.

This makes the terms and conditions for casino operators in Liechtenstein less attractive, but a determined fight against gambling, which was banned in the predominantly Catholic principality until 2009, would be different. But despite all the worries, Liechtenstein is happy to take gambling tax revenue with it. Despite the pandemic and partial containment, the equivalent of 71 million euros remained in the state coffers in 2020, or nearly 200,000 euros per day. The reviews come from Switzerland, where casino operators complain that the Liechtenstein people have suffocated their customers. In fact, a simple glance at the license plates of cars in front of casinos shows that many Swiss, Austrians, but also a surprising number of Germans come to Liechtenstein to gamble.

Gaming entrepreneurs quickly recognized the potential of the location. This presumably also motivated the German businessman to remove the gold painted box in Schaan, despite the exorbitant land prices there. He started the project in 2019. As it is said, the entrepreneur has even moved from Germany to Liechtenstein. So far, the Ministry of Economy has refused to grant the license. It is not clear who is on the list of accused in the ongoing criminal proceedings; official information is scarce. He only says that an employee of the company operating the “Circus Maximus” gave false information in order to obtain approval.

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