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Casinos Austria board reorganisation sees Hesoun appointed as chair

| By Robert Fletcher
Casinos Austria has appointed Wolfgang Hesoun as its new chair, as part of a wider reorganisation of its supervisory board.
Super Group CMO Barber

Hesoun, general director of Siemens Austria, will replace chief executive Robert Chvatal, who served in the role on an interim basis since Walter Rothensteiner left the business in July this year.

Aside from Hesoun, Casinos Austria has announced a number of new additions to its supervisory board, including former PwC chief executive Christine Catasta and compliance and player protection expert Erika Stark-Rittenauer.

Gerhild Hofer and Thomas Polzer will both step down from the board to make way for the new additions.

Setting out his core aims as chairman, Hesoun said much of his focus will be on protecting players from gambling-related harm.

“We want to establish Casinos Austria as a best practice company in the field of player protection in the coming years,” he said.

Thomas Schmid, a board member at Österreichische Beteiligungs (ÖBAG), which holds a major take in the business, also backed this approach, sayings casinos and lotteries have a responsibility to protect players.

“As a core shareholder, it is important to ÖBAG that our holdings continue to expand their pioneering role in the area of ​​player protection,” he said. “We want to put the issue of player protection on the agenda of all stakeholders.”

The new appointments come amid the wider ‘ReFiT’ reorganisation initiative at Casinos Austria, which, as announced in October, includes cutting approximately 350 jobs.

This, the group said, would save the business around €50m (45.0m/$61.2m) per year and help create the basis for long-term security at the group.

The reorganisation has the full support of ÖBAG and Casinos Austria majority shareholder Sazka Group, which in March agreed terms over an arrangement for joint control of the business.

“The syndicate agreement between the two main owners amicably regulates the strategic development and direction of the group of companies,” Sazka’s chief executive Robert Chvatal said.

“In particular, the two main owners will make a substantial contribution to strengthening sales and the development of new online offerings and will drive the urgently needed fight against illegality.”

However, Austria’s Union of Private Sector Employees, Printing, Journalism, and Paper (GPA-djp) previously hit out at the restructuring plan, saying it showed private ownership of the business had failed.

GPA-djp national director Karl Dürtscher claimed ReFiT was “certainly not in the best interest of the state and taxpayers”.

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