Despite the business impact of the coronavirus crisis which has required the Gauselmann Group to temporarily suspend its gaming operations, the company has taken steps to safeguard jobs and says it is optimistic that arcades and casinos in Germany will be able to reopen soon.
Over 700 Merkur arcades in Germany and Europe are currently closed, as too are all ten of the Gauselmann Group’s German casino venues and the company’s many hundreds of sports betting shops.
Yet despite the complicated business environment due to the coronavirus pandemic, the East-Westphalian family-owned company continues to look ahead with confidence.
“For the Gauselmann Group, solidarity is the order of the day,” emphasised the company’s founder Paul Gauselmann. “Our focus is currently on retaining all of the 14,000 jobs in our corporate group to the greatest extent possible. Our employees have dedicated themselves to the company for many years and decades – we therefore cannot abandon them in these difficult times. That is a huge and challenging task when you consider that we are currently generating practically no revenues.”
With approximately 13,500 Gauselmann Group employees affected by the current situation, the company affirms short-time work is the key way to preserve jobs in the long-term.
“In certain cases where short-time work would lead to extremely dramatic social hardship, we will top up the short-time work allowance. Given the size of our company, that is a considerable load, which we are bearing not only for solidarity reasons but also to secure our company”, Paul Gauselmann continued.
Out of solidarity, members of the company’s management board and managers – comprising around 60 executives – are waiving or deferring payment of, on average, 50 percent of their salary.
Following consultation with landlords, rent payments for the Gauselmann Group’s arcades in Germany have been reduced by approximately 50 percent for the present. “This measure helps us to secure liquidity and thus conserve a certain amount of clout,” Paul Gauselmann explained. “Each party is bearing 50 percent of the loss for which he/she is not to blame.”
Nevertheless, the Gauselmann Group remains focused on re-starting the market. The company’s development teams continue to work on new products in order to offer customers the best “Made in Germany” games, machines and services in the future.
The corporate group is also optimistic that arcades and casinos in Germany will be able to reopen soon. Paul Gauselmann highlights that this is also urgently necessary for player protection reasons, with a sharp rise in players accessing illegal online gambling from abroad following the closure of arcades and other legal gaming offerings due to the COVID-19 crisis. “Under these circumstances, we can currently no longer collaborate on the task formulated in the State Treaty on Gambling to steer people’s natural drive to play games such that they do so in an orderly fashion, and to counteract the proliferation of illegal gambling offerings,” he noted.
Dieter Kuhlmann, board member with responsibility for gaming operations, emphasises that the Gauselmann Group is prepared to resume its arcade operations as soon as possible. “The commercial arcades, in particular, have the advantage that, under the legal provisions, they are already implementing requirements that comply with the principle of social distancing anyway,” he clarified. “Therefore, when we reopen our arcades, these in conjunction with additional extensive measures will ensure optimal infection protection for our guests and employees.”