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Incoming Optimism

Erwin van Lambaart, Chief Executive Officer, Casinos Austria AG

Erwin van Lambaart was named as the new chief executive officer for global casino operator Casinos Austria AG in April 2022 following some six years as the head of Dutch counterpart Holland Casino. The 59-year-old took over from long-serving predecessor Bettina Glatz-Kremsner, and is now responsible for leading a company that runs 36 casinos in 10 nations, a large network of WINWIN-branded video lottery parlors, the win2day iGaming firm and lottery provider Austrian Lotteries.

Following his appointment, the father of two adult sons relocated from his native Netherlands to Vienna to begin overseeing an organization that was continuing to recover from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. His immediate goal was to continue the steady implementation of “a reorganization concept” that had been earlier designed to increase efficiencies and further improve an annual consolidated net profit that sequentially swelled by more than 4,000 percent last year to top $138 million.

The seasoned professional proclaimed that this new path will additionally assist Casinos Austria AG in establishing the “basis for a successful future” while allowing it to become “more focused on the entertainment value and the experiences of our guests and customers.” Van Lambaart asserts that he is also looking forward to his employer’s launch next year of a refreshed responsible gaming program that will look to protect players “even further” and give it “many more opportunities to be even more innovative and guest-centric.”

“Casinos Austria AG has a very strong worldwide reputation as a leader in responsible gaming, and a gambling company offering a wide range of high-quality products across a portfolio encompassing lotteries, online, casinos, sports betting and video lottery terminals in Austria, and an additional 24 casinos and video lottery terminal operations in nine different countries outside of Austria,” he says. “I have always liked working internationally, and Austria is a beautiful country in the heart of Europe where tradition and organizational skills go hand in hand with quality of life and entrepreneurial inspiration.”

The ability of Casinos Austria AG to fulfil its growth dreams had already been given a massive boost in 2020 when European lottery giant Sazka Group, which was later renamed Allwyn, bought the 17.19 percent stake in the firm previously held by Novomatic AG. This deal took the Prague-headquartered enterprise’s aggregate interest in the casino operator to north of 55 percent with the state-run Osterreichische Beteiligungs AG (OBAG) sovereign wealth fund maintaining its own 33 percent investment.

Van Lambaart describes his company’s latest majority shareholder as “a leading European company” that cooperates in sharing “best practices between countries when applicable” as part of an effort “to try to make each other better.”

The veteran figure, who additionally worked in the international entertainment industry for 14 years via stints with firms including Endemol, Stage Entertainment International and Niehe Media, also pronounced that the new ownership structure of Casinos Austria AG is “excellent” because it involves “a very dynamic and private majority owner” working in cooperation with the state via OBAG to engender “a higher degree of long-term stability and doing what is good for Austria.

“By Austrian law, the board for Casinos Austria AG must be independent, and it needs to do what is best for the company and for all the stakeholders, including the shareholders,” he says. “We all now work for the same goal—creating a strong, stable and successful Casinos Austria AG.”

Things could soon get even better for Casinos Austria AG after the firm’s Casinos Austria International subsidiary was named as the preferred operating partner for the $3.5 billion casino resort Nagasaki Prefecture is looking to build at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park near the community of Sasebo in Japan. This project is well on its way to becoming a reality, and is now awaiting approval from a panel of federal selectors.

Regarding this envisioned venue, van Lambaart describes the selection of Casinos Austria International as an honor that could result in Nagasaki Prefecture hosting Japan’s inaugural Las Vegas-style casino resort as soon as 2027. He furthermore asserts that this project is to be joined over the coming months and years by a raft of “new developments and innovations” encompassing more online investments, the launch of advanced products, an acceleration of digitalization and the further development of management and talent.

“The background to this is our excellent reputation, which we enjoy worldwide, but the processes in Japan are very complex, lengthy and not yet complete,” he says. “It really is a long-term plan with many steps and processes to follow. It is the philosophy of Casinos Austria AG to always give the best, and we will do that in Japan, too.”

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