BANNER YEAR IN CHILE: WIN UP 150 PERCENT
Gross gaming revenues at Chile’s casinos grew 150 percent last year, as the opening of seven properties brought the number of new casinos to 15.
The annual survey by the country’s Superintendence of Casinos showed the industry last year paid a total of US$89m in VAT and gaming taxes on total revenues of $220 million, up from $78 million in 2008, according to a report by GamblingCompliance.com.
About 75 percent of gaming revenues, roughly $165 million, came from the nearly 7,000 slot machines operating under reforms enacted in 2005, which limits gaming devices to licensed casinos but has allowed the regulated industry to expand dramatically.
Visitation rose to 4 million visitors last year, and the average spend per visit was up 20 percent to nearly $30 from $24.60.
“Comparing the operating results of 2009 with those of the previous year, we can see that the new casino industry has entered a period of sustainable growth,” said Superintendence Director Francisco Leiva.
Leiva said final regulatory approvals are on the way for three more planned casinos this year. Beyond that, continued opposition from older operations that pre-date the reforms has made it uncertain whether more licenses will be made awarded in the future.
Atronic was the market leader in Chile last year based on the number of its machines in operation in Chilean casinos, the Superintendence said, as the German-based group accounted for 20.5 percent of the 6,779 slots installed on casino floors in the country at year’s end.
U.S.-based WMS came a close second with 19.4 percent share of the slots market, followed by Bally Technologies (17.1 percent), IGT (15.9 percent), Aristocrat (12.2 percent) and Novomatic (11.2 percent).
PARAGUAY OKS BIDS FOR CASINO LICENSES
Paraguay’s National Games of Chance Commission last month allowed bids from eight companies for 10 casino licenses.
The bids were received over the objections of one of the bidders, La Gloria Hotelería, which sought clarification on several issues and wanted a “public audience” with the bidders, according to a report in the digital daily Última Hora. La Gloria said the tender process was fraught with “legal insecurity” and cited alleged inconsistencies on the part of the commission, claiming that identical cases before the commission had been resolved in completely different ways.
Eight firms bought bid documents in addition to La Gloria: Vouga & Olmedo, acting on behalf of Azar Internacional and Casinos Paraguayos; 7 Saltos; Monalisa; SES; Cosmopolitan Club; Del Este Inversiones; and Lácteos Valtellina.
COLUMBIA HIKES VAT ON GAMBLING GAMES
Colombia’s decision to raise the VAT on gambling games to 16 percent has raised fears that illegal gambling will only increase.
The president of the Colombian Federation of Games of Chance, an industry trade group, appealed the increase to the Ministry of the Economy, arguing, without success, that it places licensed operators at a disadvantage in competing with a proliferation of illegal gambling operations.
“Unfortunately, the minister told us that there was nothing to be done,” Baltazar Medina told Caracol Radio. “We know that in Colombia illegal gaming grows more and more every day and that bettors prefer to gamble with businessmen that do not charge the VAT.”
The governor of Caldas, Mario Aristizabal, also said that the increase, which applies to alcoholic beverages as well, may increase illegality.
“We think that this increment in VAT may not only cause the commercial sector to be less competitive, and may boost illegal gaming, but will also increase the smuggling and adulteration of liquors.”
The Ministry of Social Protection said the tax increase will generate between US$400 million and $500 million in new revenues, which will be used to reduce the deficit in the health budget.
PRINCESS HOTEL TO HOST GUYANA'S FIRST CASINO
A US$2 million casino is set to open in Guyana this month.
The Princess Casino, operating at the Princess Hotel in Providence, a suburb of the capital of Georgetown, will be the first casino to open under the 2006 Gambling Prevention Bill, which legalizes the industry within hotels and confines its clientele to hotel guests.
According to a report in Starbroek News, the casino will cover about 1,486 square meters and feature blackjack, roulette, poker and some machine gambling. To ensure is success, management said the hotel is reaching out to foreign and local tour operators.
Turkish hotel group Princess bought the hotel, formerly Buddy’s International Hotel, in 2008 for US$15 million from local businessman Omprakash “Buddy” Shivraj.
LICENSE RENEWALS SPARK OUTCRY IN BUENOS AIRES
Governor Daniel Scioli of Argentina’s Province of Buenos Aires has enacted a decree to extend the licenses for the operation of seven bingo and slot halls without opening them to outside bidding
The decree exempts from bidding slot venues and bingo halls (which are allowed to operate gaming machines in the province) whose licenses will expire before 2011. Benefiting are venues in Mar del Plata, Mar de Ajó, San Martín, Moreno, Quilmes, Avellaneda and Zárate.
Provincial authorities justified the extensions on technical grounds relating to changes in EGD hardware and software. But some lawmakers have protested and have threatened to appeal the decree’s legality to the courts.
GLI APPROVED TO TEST BY CHILE'S REGULATORS
U.S.-based Gaming Laboratories International has become the first gaming testing lab to receive accreditation from Chile’s Superintendence of Casinos.
GLI is the first testing lab to receive accreditation under the 2005 law that reformed the country’s casino industry and allowed it to expand in a manner that has become a regulatory model for South America.
The law also established the homologation process under which GLI will operate, and the company is participating in the process for establishing those standards.
GLI has been growing steadily across Latin America and now tests for regulators in Argentina, Panama and Peru and is working with Colombia and Mexico to develop technical standards in line with international practices.