"The source of the conflict is that Chilean authorities believe the bidding process for the renewal of casino licenses must occur now under rules based on market supply, instead of applying the 15-year renewal rules set forth in the bidding terms of the original licensing agreement," Abdala explained.
"We have held talks with government officials and told them: ‘no problem, we have to renew our license in 2023, but we need to play by the same rules that were in place when we were asked to join in," he continued.
"When a company invests, it does so with a long-term approach. We have invested USD 68 millIon in a small city because we wanted to do what was best for our business, but also to promote the development of the community. The fact that they are changing the rules now is unacceptable," Abdala pointed out.
The company official said they have tried to reach an agreement on this matter with the local gambling regulator —the SCJ—but have not been heard: "The SCJ have completely shut their doors to us, saying they have ‘no choice’ but I believe they are wrong, and ill-advised."
"Chile has always been respectful towards foreign investors and provided a safe regulatory framework for them," Abdala added. We believe those are the principles that should prevail, but if you ask me if the industry is willing to come into conflict with the state, that is not the case. We seek to reach an agreement and we trust that they will be able to understand where we stand and that we need to be heard. We hope we are not forced to commence legal proceedings but, without a doubt, those investors who see their rights violated in any way —their investments amount to over USD 1,500 million—, will, of course, look for a way to protect their interests and assert their rights."