Poland’s casino license derbies have turned nasty as two competitors accuse each other of making wildly outlandish revenue claims to boost their chances of winning new licenses.
Last week, Polish business news outlet Puls Biznesu reported on the rather fanciful claims made about the revenue potential of certain casino operations by Zbigniew Benbenek’s ZPR group, which operates 28 of the country’s 40 casinos.
Polish law allows for a maximum of 52 casino licenses and new casino licenses must be issued via public tender. The Ministry of Finance judges license applications by a point system predicated on, amongst other criteria, their expected revenue projections. But only the projections for the first three years of operations are subject to verification, meaning operators can promise the moon without fear of blowback.
In the case of an April 2018 tender for casino licenses in the Lodz region, ZPR’s application estimated that gaming revenue would total PLN38m (US$10.2m) in each of the first three years. But ZPR claims revenue will leap to PLN409m ($110m) in year four, rising to PLN4.6b ($1.24b) in year five and hitting just under PLN23b ($6.2b) in year six.
ZPR has submitted other applications for casino licenses in the Mazovia and Wielkopolska areas, claiming even wilder revenue predictions of PNL61b ($16.4b) and PLN100b ($26.9b), respectively, in the years outside the verification window.
According to official data, Poland’s entire casino market enjoyed turnover of PLN4.82b in 2017, from which the casinos earned revenue of just under PLN745m ($200.6m). The government claimed 50% of this revenue as its own.
ZPR’s revenue claims have been challenged by rival operator Casinos Poland as having no basis in reality. Casinos Poland, which operates six gaming venues, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance arguing that the license derby shouldn’t depend on “the auction of absurdities.”
ZPR president Tomasz Szakiel responded to Casinos Poland’s objections by noting that his company was simply adapting better to the rules of the tender than its rivals. Szakiel also noted that ZPR was merely responding in kind to Casinos Poland’s successful 2017 bid for a casino license in Silesia, which saw Casinos Poland claim that its Bielsko Biala casino would generate revenue of over PLN5b in six years.