A leading figure in the European lottery sector has been criticised for expressing an opinion on the possible privatisation of a state-run lottery.
Jannie Haek, who holds the post of Chief Executive for Loterie Nationale, the national lottery operator in Belgium, was asked by reporters for his view on whether there would be a privatisation of the lottery. The question reflected a recent successful lottery privatisation in France earlier this year. The privatisation of Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) made headlines, becoming one of the most high-profile IPOs in European industry.
In response, Haek suggested that a partial privatisation of the national lottery in Belgium, along the lines of the French model, would present a good potential investment opportunity.
But his comments drew a critical response. Belgium Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, who is part of the Open VLD party, said that the CEO of Loterie should remember that he was leading a state asset, and that Loterie was not a private enterprise that could be bought or sold:
“Loterie’s CEO can wish it, but we, the Government, are the owners.”
De Croo’s remarks were made at a Council of Ministers during the ongoing reformation of the Belgium government as it goes through a transition to an interim government. The country is currently in a state of political paralysis, following elections held in May that produced no decisive outcome. In the months since, there has been a lack of willingness among parties to form an effective coalition.
De Croo also said that a potential privatisation of the state lottery should be low on the list of priorities for politicians in Belgium. There was also criticism from Kurt Sissau, who heads the Flemish ACOD union. He added his concerns over the remarks as he said that employees of Loterie had been reassured that there was no prospect of privatisation.