August, sometimes called the silly season in England, is when summer is full steam ahead, the sun comes out and, as they say, Englishmen and dogs go crazy in the heat of the midday sun. At least, this is what was said of Englishmen in the world’s sunnier regions but not in a country of uncertain seasons, especially these days when El Nino or La Nina can create climatic havoc from California to Australia, and back.
Certainly, almost everything stops in Europe, where people go on vacation, whether employed or not. For people in Gaming, one season is just like any other, particularly if the industry moves in big steps, like in Colombia, Dominican Republic or Panama where we have been checking regulatory and operational changes as well as seeing preparations for the eagerly awaited opening of the Ocean Sun Casino by one of the world’s great gaming operators of casinos and all-inclusive resorts on several continents, Sun International.
But now we are getting ready for our yearly visit to the event of the year – G2E Las Vegas from September 30 to October 02 and of great significance to the global industry. Following this on Friday October 03 we’ll be at Ainsworth Games’ opening of its Las Vegas Campus. See you all there!
COLOMBIA – COLJUEGOS to start Super Astro tender process
COLJUEGOS, the State-owned gaming regulatory agency in Colombia, has announced that next September will start the public tender process to select the nationwide operator of “Super Astro”, the lotto game where the current concession will come to an end in April 2015. The new “Super Astro” concession will be for 5 years, until 2020, and will give the operator access to a market that has been growing over the years, formed primarily of consumers in the workforce age group with a medium to high level of education.
Up to June 2014, “Super Astro” sales totalled about US$274 million and it is expected that sales to April next year will reach US$370 million. Year after year “Super Astro” sales have increased at an average rate of 41%. In addition, this game has produced revenue for the nation of around US$45 million, which has gone into public health.
Currently the game is sold through about 47,000 terminals located throughout the country. In 2014, “Super Astro” paid prizes to more than 533,000 people, who have received in excess of US$22 million.
PANAMA – Official opening of Ocean Sun Casino in October
Renowned developer of resort casinos, South Africa’s Sun International, has bet on Panama for its exclusive Ocean Sun Casino at the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower. Owing to the highest standards of design, service, location and the variety of entertainment offered, Ocean Sun Casino is set to become a major international attraction.
The main casino floor covers 5,800 m2 and has over 500 slot machines. Live entertainment and three top class restaurants to suit the fussiest of palates add to the inviting mix. Above there are 6 luxury suites with personal service available for those clients wishing to extend their visit; and on floor 65 of the building is Panaviera amidst panoramic views of Panama, which is the only Premium casino in the country, offering Sun International’s VIP clients the best of gaming experiences.
Puerto Rico’s Casino de Mayaguez to remain open
What is happening to Casino Mayaguez is precisely what is happening to Puerto Rico. It is not that a casino is a microcosm of a society, it is the opposite. The fortunes of Puerto Rico, which had its best era when it was a tourist destination beloved by US visitors, are now affecting the casinos in the country. Without the tourist numbers the casinos are not getting good results.
When to the lack of tourists is added the effect of illegal gaming machines found throughout the island, in cafés, bars and a wide range of shops, it is not surprising that casinos are profiting from neither visitors nor local players.
In June, the operator of Casino de Mayaguez announced it would close, owing to the considerable decrease in revenues from both slots and table games, leaving 90 employees without work. However, last weekend the management of the Hotel Mayaguez Resort said the closing of the casino would be postponed provided certain conditions were met. The conditions being sought, such as a reduction in the opening hours, still will not be sufficient in the long run for the casino to be viable.
Angel Matos Garcia, president of the House of Representatives’ Commission for Tourism Development, gave notice that the Casino de Mayaguez would not be closing. He said, “The casino industry in the United States is going through a difficult time and Puerto Rico is no different. If any of the operators are in difficulties then they should communicate this immediately and we will look for alternatives.”
All well and good, but the problems for casinos in Puerto Rico lie in the gaming laws that regulate the industry. For example, the Mayaguez management proposal to reduce the hours their gaming tables operate was not acceptable because the law would have to be amended to allow this.
So the offer made by Matos Garcia would only be valid if changes to the gaming laws were made and the illegal gaming machines were removed or at least regulated. The casinos need more flexibility in operating rules and, even more than that, a reduction in the approximately 50% of casino revenue that makes its way to the government. A change to casino taxation is well overdue in Puerto Rico, as witnessed by the closure of casinos at the Melia and El Conquistador hotels.
CHILE – Casino bidding process stalls in Chillán
Last month in Chile there was an unexpected turn of events in Proceso 2014, the bidding process for the casino licence vacated in the city of Chillán last September. Chile’s casino regulator, the Superintendecia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ), commenced the new licensing process in January this year, and in April announced that four bids had been presented – three for Chillán in the Bío-Bío region and a fourth for the region of Arica.
In July one of the bidders pulled out citing irregularities in the voting system, and the illegal favouritism of one of the bidding companies. A second bidder, Chillán Casino Resort – a joint venture by gaming companies Boldt of Argentina and Peralada of Spain, then appealed to the courts on the basis of irregularities and obtained a temporary injunction that has stalled the licensing process in Chillán.
The law establishes a time frame for Proceso 2014 and following a technical assessment of the projects by the SCJ, its governing body, the Consejo Resolutivo, should have been ready to grant the final Chilean casino licence by 29 August; a date that already had been extended by 30 days.
Despite the ongoing litigation in Bío-Bío, the SCJ has declared that it will continue with its deliberations over the application by Spanish company Egasa, through Casino Luckia Arica S.A., for a casino licence in Arica. This may put the Luckia Casino project at the forefront of the bidding process but it is expected that new dates will be set in due course for the final awarding of the last casino licence in Chile.