BUSINESS

Ardent Group buys 44% of Swiss casino for online gambling

TAGs: ardent group, Gaming1, stadtcasino ag, Switzerland

ardent-stadtcasino-baden-davos-casino-online-gamblingSwiss casino operator Stadtcasino Baden AG has sold a major chunk of its Davos gaming venue to Belgium’s Ardent Group to prep for the expected launch of legal online gambling in Switzerland.

On Tuesday, Stadtcasino announced that it had sold 44% of its Casino Davos property to Ardent (the former Circus Groupe). Stadtcasino will retain a 46% stake in the venue, while the Davos Tourism Organization will hold the remaining 10% stake.

Stadtcasino Baden called the deal a “strategic decision” intended to lean on Ardent’s “many years of online casino experience.” In addition to land-based operations, Ardent operates online via six different platforms in multiple jurisdictions, including Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Colombia.

In preparation for Switzerland’s expected transition to legal online casino play, Grand Casino Baden spent around CHF500k to launch a free-play online casino site (JackPots.ch) last year that is powered by Ardent’s B2B division Gaming1.

On June 10, Swiss citizens will vote on whether to approve the country’s new online gambling laws, which restrict online casino operations to companies that have partnered with local land-based casino operators. Internationally licensed gambling sites that fail to secure such deals will have their domains blocked by local internet service providers.

Assuming the ‘Yes’ side prevails on June 10, Stadtcasino Baden CEO Detlef Brose said his company will “immediately and together with our new partner develop a competitive online offer.” Local media outlet Badener Tagblatt quoted Stadtcasino Baden AG chairman Jürg Altofer adding that the Ardent deal “invalidates the No Committee’s argument that international companies are being excluded from the Swiss market.”

For years, Switzerland’s casinos have claimed their falling revenue was due to online cannibalization from the numerous international sites catering to Swiss punters. But Stadtcasino Baden’s gross gaming revenue improved 1.4% to CHF60.4m in fiscal 2017, while profit more than doubled to CHF4.6m.

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