Members of the board on the Gaming & Casino Supervision Commission get special treatment, pocketing around €800 a month while others on similar public bodies make €70, MPs heard on Monday.

The earnings of board members of the gaming commission came up at the House finance committee, where the commission’s executive director was requesting the release of funds for remuneration.

A representative of the auditor-general’s office spoke of a ‘two-tier system’ in relation to the remuneration of people who sit on the boards of public bodies.

It turns out the regular members of the board on the gaming commission make €800 a month, while the chairman earns €1,000.

These numbers work out as the average monthly earnings over a year. Board members do not receive a salary per se, but rather an allowance for attending meetings. The auditor-general’s office reported that last year the board held just nine meetings.

Moreover, for a period of five months not a single meeting took place.

By comparison, people sitting on the boards of other public bodies get a €70 to €80 stipend per meeting they attend.

The auditor-general’s office also pointed out that the decision regarding the remuneration of the gaming commission was taken by the cabinet in February 2017. And this standalone decision was taken despite a prior decision by the cabinet generally regulating the earnings of people serving on the boards of public bodies.

Worse even, the rep claimed, the cabinet’s decision regarding the gaming commission was not published at the time.

An official representing the cabinet confirmed the 2017 decision, but said the cabinet is willing to reconsider it.

The Audit Office said also they discovered that board members on the gaming commission get social insurance, as if they’re on the permanent government payroll.

Facing the heat, a representative of the gaming commission said that when the legislation establishing the body was passed, there were no offices and no staff – and yet the commission succeeded in bringing to fruition the operation of the first casino within a year.

Harris Tsangarides, executive director of the commission, said that of the €27.6 million collected since the public body’s establishment, only a third of the revenues have gone to the commission itself, the rest to the state treasury.

Tsangarides said that whatever remuneration is decided going forward, the board members will keep working – even at zero pay.

More generally, the executive director said they anticipate some €2.5 billion in gaming receipts from the casinos for this year – up from €1.8 billion last year.

Approximately 2,000 people work at the casinos, he added.