On Monday 26 August, Paul Gauselmann – founder of German gaming machines conglomerate Gauselmann Group (Merkur Gaming) – celebrated his 85th birthday and six decades working in the gambling sector.
The industry figurehead, referred to in Germany as ‘the Pope of the amusement business’, is recognised as one of the top German post-war industrialists, having grown Gauselmann into the lead supplier of gaming machine provisions, employing 14,000 staff and servicing in excess of 2 million gaming/amusement machines worldwide.
Born in 1934 in the town of Borghurst (Münster-Westphalia), Gauselmann’s colourful career began training as a telecommunications inspector.
Seeking additional income, Gauselmann would install jukeboxes within leisure properties in his home province of Westphalia, which would see the entrepreneur establish the Gauselmann business in 1957. It became the leading gaming machines equipment supplier during the 1960s.
Diversifying the business in 1974, Gauselmann launched ‘MERKUR-SPILOTHEK’ – considered Europe’s first modern arcade franchise – in a lucrative move for the supplier which filled its venues with its own proprietary-built ‘Merkur B’ gaming machines.
Supporting business growth through new innovations developed by the firm’s ‘gaming thinktank’ and an acute focus on ‘build quality’, by the 1980s Gauselmann would sell 40,000 gaming units becoming outright German market leader with 50% of market share. Since 2016, the conglomerate has operated under the domain of the Gauslemann Family Foundation, reporting annual sales of €3.6 billion.
Gauselmann’s contribution to German industry has seen the businessman become an honorary citizen of the towns of Espelkamp and Lübbecke, and further bearer of the First Class Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Releasing a personal statement, Gauselmann thanked his family for the support they have shown him throughout his business career.
“Whether on the Management Board, the Supervisory Board or within the context of the Foundation, my family is both privately and professionally the most important pillar in my life,” he said.
“My sons have also each in their own way contributed significantly to the present success of the Gauselmann Group. I would like to say a very special thank you to my wife Karin, who has encouraged and stood by me for more than 50 years!”