Final Word from Thursday, February 6, 2003

In the 1990 film noir The Grifters, one con artist says to another, "Sooner or later the lightning hits, and I'm not going to be around when it hits you." Has the lightning hit Sazka lottery company? It doesn't have the money to finish a Prague hockey stadium and is pleading for a state loan guarantee. So far the government is hesitant, but Sazka knows how to get its way. Hospodářské noviny has often been critical of Sazka and suggested in late 2000 that it uses threats, money and media influence to intimidate its opponents. Sazka is winning sympathy in some circles for its argument that unless it gets the guarantee, the CR won't be able to host the 2004 world cup. The cabinet can reject the appeal - and perhaps bring about a management shakeup at Sazka - or it can continue to pamper one of the CR's most powerful and least transparent monopolies.


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