From Italy to Turkey, Czech billionaires interested in taking over gambling markets

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016 12:02

Media-shy energy investor Karel Komarek and his billionaire pal Jiri Smejc are interested in investing in the Italian gambling industry. The two Czech men - who have been involved in a plenitude of investment, with Smejc’s passion project being the Maldive private island Velaa, and Karel Komarek funnelling millions to support Czech music culture - have set their sights on entering the market.

According to Dana Dvorakova, spokeswoman of Komareks’s company KKCG, a daughter company of KKCG and Smejc’s Emma Capital have bought shares in Italian Gaming Holding, which runs the biggest Italian gambling company Lotto. Alongside the Italian Gaming Holding (32,5 %), Lotto is run by Lottomatica (61,5 %), Arianna 2001 (4%) and Novomatic Italia (2 %).

This, however, isn’t the billionaires' first journey into the world of gambling. Smejc supported the privatisation of gambling in Greece and purchased the state-run lottery OPAP.

An investigation into the business interests of the Czech investment tycoons, conducted by spieler-info.at, suggests that both Smejc and Komarek are interested in entering both the Austrian market, via Casino Austria AG / Österreichische Lotterien Gruppe, and the Turkish market.