International edition
September 22, 2020

At least 14 companies are interested

Uruguay: Private operators will tender the mixed operation of 29 casinos

(Uruguay).- According to newspaper El País, the Uruguayan government elaborates a mega-tender that will allow private operators to associate for the operation of the 29 existing casinos.

T

here would already be 14 firms interested, and last Monday 16th, President Tabaré Vázquez authorized a similar system to be applied in Casino Nogaró.

"Nowadays we are finishing the documents and the modification of some decree with legal firm Ferrere, to make a call to the whole country, in order to do mixed developments together with touristic business,” said National Director of Casinos, Fernando Nopitsch.

The mixed development would allow an investor to build a venue with slots and table games together with the state. Besides, the businessman charges a percentage to the state for hiring the gambling hall. In the last weeks, Nopitsch received a series of offers from businessmen interested in building hotels, convention centres and other tourist developments, and also interested in adding them casinos.

For example, in the city of Artigas it has been operating a casino from the National Director of Casinos for almost 20 years. If a businessman aims to build a hotel of around us$ 3,000,000, to make it quickly profitable, the investor may show the National Direction of Casinos its interest in installing a casino with a mixed system in the hotel.

Besides, last March 16th, president Vázquez authorized the Casino Direction to hire, with the company Vidaplan S.A. –operator of Mantra Hotel in Maldonado- to incorporate Nogaró Casino to the mixed operating system of a tourist or commercial complex.

Vidaplan S.A. will install, in building Nogaró, a “top international tourist complex”, whose investment will be around us$ 18,000,000 and will be performed during this year. The project also includes the construction of two restaurants, a night club, three cinemas and a theater. It also pointed that it will install 250 slots. Each of them costs us$ 15,000.

Currently, Nogaró is a casino exclusively operated by the Casino Direction. The contract between the state and the owners (the Sagasti family) has concluded. It allowed Vidaplan S.A. to make a direct agreement with the owners of the building and, then, propose Casinos to do a mixed development.

With the document of the leasing of Nogaró, Vidaplan S.A. proposed Casinos to extend to that venue the regime it has in Mantra Hotel. However, the Court of Audit was against the expansion or extention of the contract of Mantra to Nogaró and the only way was to implement an association with the lessor.

Nopischt commented: "We agreed to do a mixed business in Nogaró. It is useful for the state and the country as well. Within an international crisis, this investment will be very positive and will generate jobs.” He also said that the leasing of Nogaro casino had concluded and it was just a leasing. It means that the state did not keep the right to be the first interested in renewing the contract. "The state did not have any advantage compared to other parties,” said Nopitsch.

When asked if Casino Nogaró has losses that forced the state to look for other type of businesses, Nopitsch answered that this place "was always profitable.” Another argument in favor of the mixed system in Nogaró is that the gambling venue was "very damaged" and will now receive a millionaire investment, said the officer. Last December 30th, the Court of Audit decided not to make objections to the project to hire Casino Nogaró from the Casino Direction.

The Casino Direction argued that, to establish a mixed system, the state must operate the games of chance, leaving the private parties the task to manage other services, such as maintenance, acquisitions, tourism. At the end of 2008, Cipriani group decided that the government should call to a tender for the mixed operation of Nogaró Casino and demanded the Casino National Direction not to sign an agreement with Vidaplan S.A. (Hotel Mantra).

Cipriani group doubled Vidaplan bet, offering us$ 30 million to sign a mixed system in Casino Nogaró. Vidaplan S.A. said it will invest around US$ 18 million during the year. Cipriani proposed the government to build a five-floor casino in front to the sculpture called “Los Dedos" in Punta del Este. This offer did not receive any answer, neither from the government nor from Maldonado Council, according to directors of Cipriani group.

"They want to sign with Mantra without calling to a tender, just to improve the existing casino, when Grupo Cipriani presented a project with private initiative," said to El País the speaker of such consortium, Claudia Guadalupe.

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