Toward the end of 2011, the Bad Homburg Casino will be up for sale and a local political party has their eye on it. The New Homburger Union (NHU) political party’s main electoral platform is to purchase and operate the casino on behalf of the city in order to solve the city’s current financial crisis.
Local government coffers are empty; the city is close to bankruptcy and NHU dreams of winning a jackpot overnight by impressing voters with the proposed purchase of the casino. NHU believes that the revenues generated by the casino will make Bad Homburg not only solvent, but pay for a number of social projects, education and overall infrastructure improvements.
The city of Bad Homburg’s share of the taxes and licensing fees has steeply declined over the past few years from the city’s biggest casino. In 2009, the casino’s profits equaled 9.4 million euro and 2010 revenues tumbled to 3.5 million. Nationwide revenues of all casinos decreased by almost twenty percent primarily due to the ever-growing popularity of online casinos.
The global economic crisis also contributed to the decline in revenues as well as strict German gambling laws, which restrict the advertising of casinos. In addition, gambling establishments had to begin complying with a myriad of new regulations or face enormous fines. Among the new regulations is an intense verification process to make sure that each patron is of legal age and is not on any ‘restriction lists’ for compulsive gamblers.
Players are more and more drawn to German poker rooms and online casinos, where they can enjoy total anonymity and freedom of play. This naturally takes business away from land-based casino’s profits: with their centuries old traditions and established, generations old clientele.
Socialists see the NHU plan for government ownership of business as a positive step while free market advocates are against the plan, pointing out that politicians are not capable of operating a business. Opponents of the casino acquisition plan point to the USA State of New York, which generated a billion dollar yearly losses with its sportsbook. The first year that New York privatized the sportsbook, it generated a 6 billion dollar profit.
Others hope that after taking control of the casino, politicians will realize the harsh reality of running such a business and subsequently will change gambling regulations to provide more freedoms for the industry. An elderly man, who was walking his schnauzer, commented that – ‘it’s better for (politicians) to learn from books or with their own money; it’s wasting taxpayer money, buying business they know nothing about, like casinos or cabarets.’