Chile granted yesterday the operating licenses for nine casinos in the country, which meant the ending of the first opening regulation phase for the casino market in the country. While the Chilean firm Fischer was granted three licenses, the Spanish group Cirsa did not receive any operating permit.
The Economy Deputy Minister, María Olivia Recart, affirmed in a press release that the Resolution Council of the Casino Superintendence granted the operating licenses to the Chilean company Enjoy (Antofagasta), Spanish Egasa-Nervión (Copiapó), the Austrian-Chilean Polaris (Los Angeles), Chilean J.L.Giner (Pinto), Valmar (Talcahuano), Fischer (Temuco, Valdivia y Punta Arenas) and Panamenian Latin Gaming (Osorno).
It also remarked that the first phase of the tender process will demand a total investment of USD 324.9 million as well as the creation of 4,405 new direct and permanent employments. According to the press release: “All the communities of each of the regions will be benefited by the granting of operation licenses, because, according to the law, societies will have to pay a special tax of the 20% of the gross income generated by gambling”. It also commented that “Half (of the special tax) will be allocated to the community in which the casino will be located, and the other half to the corresponding regional government to be redistributed in the other regional councils”, added.
After the results, the new tycoon of the industry is Fischer group, which was granted 3 operating licenses in the cities of Temuco, Valdivia and Punta Arenas. Investments reach USD 136.7 million.
Enjoy group, which belongs to Martínez family –which currently operates a casino in Puerto Varas in a joint venture with Fischer, Pucón, Iquique and Viña del Mar-, was granted a license for Antofagasta council in the II Region, with a total investment of USD 47.7 million.
The company commented: “Our project will be a great contribution for the city, because it will recover Huanchaca ruins, something that was long awaited for the people of the region”. However, the firm regretted that Concepción and Chiloé projects have not been chosen, because they consider that they would have contributed to the development of those places, too.
Besides, Latin Gaming Osorno S.A. (Latin Gaming), with a USD 24.7 million investment, won the tender for the council in the Tenth Region. While Egasa-Nervión, whose total investment will be USD 16.6 million, was granted an operating license available in Copiapó, where it will operate a casino and a five-star hotel, as well as cinemas and a convention center.
Polaris was granted an operating license in Los Ángeles council, with a USD 11.6 million investment. Altough Polares general manager, Roberto García, was happy with the tender, he assured that “we consider we should have also been granted Osorno, based in the worldwide expertise and experience of Casinos Austria as well as the great quality of the project”.
The second operating license available in the Eighth Region was granted in Pinto community to J.L. Giner, Casinos Termas de Chillán S.A., with a total investment of USD 5.4 million. “We are very happy. We were confident in the project we presented, and we think the new venue will be inaugurated next December 15th”, commented Jose Luis Giner. Besides, the third license in the same region was granted in Talcahuano to Marina del Sol S.A. (Valmar), a society commited with a USD 82.1 million investment.
Spanish group Cirsa suffered a setback in its investment plan, because it did not obtain any of the nine bids that were granted up to the moment. Through a press release, its representatives assured that the authorities did not consider “aspects which we consider are crucial for the beginning of a transparent casino industry”.
The company affirmed it respected the decision of the authority, but it expressed its “disappointment” due to the fact that “in the granting of these first licenses they did not have into account evaluation criteria aspects we believe are essencial for the beginning of a transparent and competitive casino industry according to international standards. In particular, we remark that they have not consider the danger that the gambling market concentration represents, as well as the experience of top operators in the casino industry, hostelling and convention centers”.
The public event in which the tender process results were communicated counted with the presence of members of the Resolution Council, composed of Claudia Serrano, Deputy Minister of Regional Development; Alberto Etchegaray, Superintendent of Values and Insurance; councellors confirmed by the Senate in 2005, Ernesto Livacic and Ernesto R. Fontaine; and mayors Marcela Hernando (II Region) and Julieta Cruz (III Region) as well as council Jaime Bertín (X Region). Regional authorities María Soledad Tohá (VIII Region), Eduardo Klein (IX Region) and Eugenia Mancilla (XII Region), could not assist to the public meeting held in the Ministery of Economy. Besides, Superintendent Francisco Javier Leiva also assisted to the event on behalf of the Superintendence and as executive secretary and rapporteur of the Resolution Council.
The regions where casinos have not been granted are V,VI and VII, because the tender process is delayed there, as a result of the legal conflict due to the exclusion of the firm Thunderbird, and they are in the pre-qualification process now. These regions will be granted its five new casinos at the end of the year.