A mainstream German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, reported that for many years, Gauselmann AG, the only supplier of slot machines in Germany, was influencing politicians to support anti-internet gambling and anti-competitive laws in exchange for political donations. According to the report, German political parties in the last 20 years accepted undeclared donations from Gauselmann AG. The company allegedly exploited a loophole within tax laws which allowed the company to pressure politicians to manipulate German gambling laws in ways which favored the company. Questionable political contributions were made in exchange for legislation to further restrict restrict online casinos and to forbid access of foreign slot manufacturers to the German casino market.
Paul Gauselmann, CEO of the Gauselmann Industries confirmed that multiple large donations have been sent to the four largest political parties in Germany since 1990. According to the company, the donations were only meant to ‘educate legislators and politicians about the complexities of the German gaming industry and the dangers of online casinos in Germany’. According to the report, the total sum of donations is far above 1 million euros. During each election year, the donations averaged 70,000 Euros; while in off years the donations slightly dropped to around 50,000 Euros yearly.
Technically, the donations were not illegal under German law, as individual donations of under €10,000 need not be disclosed in the accounting records of political parties. Yet the donations were made by employees (or relatives) of Gauselmann subsidiaries, with questionable €5,000 euro donations coming from minimum wage employees including gardeners, janitors and kitchen staff. Political pundits as well as regulators are looking at individual donors who made curious political donations. It is very difficult to understand why a recent immigrant would donate the equivalent of his two month salary to a political party which is against immigration.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said that despite knowing that the sources of the Gauselmann donations were questionable, they felt laws were not broken and the overall benefit outweigh rejecting perfectly legal donations on suspicion alone. Gauselmann top management is reported to have been summoned to the Bundestag for questioning. Barbara Hendricks, the treasurer of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) said that if it’s proven Gauselmann deliberately circumvented the rules, to influence German gambling laws, administrative and criminal action will follow. The Social Democratic Party of Germany also accepted donations from Gauselmann.