Olympic Entertainment lose court fight over Latvia casino closure


olympic-entertainment-riga-latvia-casino-closureEastern European gaming operator Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG) is vowing to appeal a court ruling that doomed one of its casinos in Latvia’s capital Riga.

In May 2017, the Riga City Council voted to close all gaming halls in the city’s historic center district, unless they were located in four- or five-star hotels. OEG, which operates seven of the 42 affected venues, vowed to fight the closure order in court.

On Monday, OEG announced that the District Administrative Court in Riga had ruled in favor of the City Council in regards to a specific casino on Raina boulevard 15. Accordingly, the casino must close its doors as ordered by October 2022. OEG CEO Madis Jääger confirmed that the company “will appeal the decision to higher level court.”

Latvia is OEG’s leading market, with a total of 53 gaming venues at the end of last year. Latvia contributed revenue of €69m to OEG’s 2017 annual results, roughly one-third of the company’s overall revenue from land-based and online gambling operations.

Despite the threats to its Latvian operations, OEG has previously noted that the closure order wouldn’t negatively impact its flagship Latvian property Olympic Voodoo Casino, which could actually benefit from the closure of smaller competitors.

OEG also recently provided an update on its March decision to accept a €288m takeover offer by Odyssey Europe AS, an entity controlled by UK private equity group Novalpina Capital. OEG says the offer’s closing conditions have been met, and the transfer of power to Odyssey Europe is set to take effect on May 10.

The terms of the ‘merger’ have yet to be agreed upon, and approval of OEG shareholders at their upcoming general meeting will be required before the deal becomes official. But since the firm’s two largest shareholders – who collectively hold 64% of OEG – have already agreed to the deal, Odyssey Europe can likely go ahead and start measuring the drapes in OEG’s corner offices.