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The Chilean casino association, Asociación de Casinos, has said once again that its members believe there are irregularities in the bidding process suggested by the Superintendency of Gambling Casinos (SCJ) for the 12 casinos whose licences would expire between 2023 and 2024.
Following the resumption of the process on May 24, the operators were given time to prepare economic bids and other relevant papers to present on October 18.
‘Complex and disappointing’
According to Ricardo Abdala, the association’s president, who told local outlet La Tercera that: “the situation that the casino industry is facing in regards to the bidding process is complex and disappointing because unfortunately the superintendent Vivien Villagrán has not given basic guarantees for a transparent and competitive process.”
And he added: “Since 2020, we have been warning that the authority is imposing a bidding process on the operator that is not following the current legal framework and that has been unsuccessful, as recent events have shown.”
“However, no one has listened to us, we haven’t seen any interest from the regulator in having a discussion. On the contrary, we have been pushed to participate in a process that is based on a bidding model that has been proved to be inefficient.”
The operating firms, as well as the Asociación de Casinos, had previously expressed their fear that “this move by the SCJ, which is supported by the Undersecretary of Finance, has very serious ramifications for the sector.”
Preferential right to extend licenses
Before the first guarantee 15 years ago that they would have a preferred right to extend their licences for another 15 years, the existing operators had invested nearly $1.4 billion in the casinos.
Based on the renewal of the gaming law that was enacted in 2015, the SCJ recently issued the requirements for the bidding procedure for the 12 casinos that will lose their authorizations between July 29, 2023, and May 14, 2024.
Despite the start of the process, operators say that “a paragraph details on the same law that ‘operating permits granted prior to the modification of this law shall be governed by the regulations that were in force at the time they were granted, unless subsequent regulations imply better conditions.”
The regulator responded by stating unequivocally that the “SCJ applies the law,” and “Given a different opinion of some industry actors, a number of Court of Appeals in the country have ratified the actions that this body has taken in seven cases to date, establishing that the SCJ has not incurred any illegalities, nor infringements of regulations or provisions. It limited itself to fully comply with the current law.”
The judicial decisions submitted by various operators, notably Dreams and Marina del Sol, are crucial in determining whether the SCJ will back down or proceed with the bidding procedure that has already begun.