When the economic situations in Greece, Belgium and Germany began to affect Casinos Austria properties there, CEO Karl Stoss decided to assume direct responsibility for the future of the versatile gaming group’s international business activities.
“We began immediately with an analysis of the status quo and rapidly established a new road map and a clear set of necessary measures,” says Stoss, who has headed up the gaming group since 2007.
The response was second nature for Stoss, an experienced mountaineer who recently climbed the 7,045-meter Mount Lhakpa Ri in the Himalayas. As such, he is used to making life-or-death decisions based on rapidly shifting circumstances.
“On tours like my recent trip to the Himalayas, you really have to concentrate on what you are doing in the here and now,” says Stoss. “This really gives you a chance to clear your head and stop turning the same issues over in your mind. You are totally focused. I find it very relaxing and it gives me the energy and clarity I need to deal with the challenges that lie before me.”
Back at Casinos Austria, those challenges include a variety of changes in the casino, lottery, sports betting, online gaming and VLT sectors—in all of which the company is active, at home and abroad. The firm has already won a 15-year extension to its license to operate Austria’s national lottery.
“The renewal of the lottery license represents a key step for the future of our group,” says Stoss. “But we can’t simply rest on our laurels. The national casino licenses in Austria will be re-tendered in 2012, and in addition to the 12 existing licenses we currently hold, we will also be bidding for the three new casino licenses and the new poker license.”
Internationally, the group has 60 gaming operations in 18 countries. These include diverse casinos, slot parlors and VLT outlets, as well as lottery operations in the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan and the Argentinean Province of Salta.
“Our international business is very important for Casinos Austria, and we want to remain a key player in the international gaming industry,” says Stoss, “particularly in the South American and Asian markets, where we feel there is good potential for growth.”
Like all operators, Casinos Austria faces a crowded environment.
“Increased competition from illegally operated online casinos and the liberalization of the gaming machine sector in Europe have posed significant challenges to the established, licensed gaming companies and initiated a restructuring of the entire gaming market,” says Stoss. “At Casinos Austria, this has meant a reorganization of our corporate group to provide us with an organization that will allow us to maintain our leading position in the industry in the years to come.”