Buenos Aires mayor weighing the options ahead of Casino Puerto Madero’s licence expiration

Buenos-Aires, politics, argentina
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Debate is ongoing regarding whether a floating casino in Buenos Aires will be able to renew its licence after it expires in October 2019. The issue is complicated by divided attitudes in Argentina’s governing Cambiemos coalition regarding gaming.

Casino Puerto Madero is owned by a consortium made up of Cirsa – still controlled by the company’s founder Manuel Lao in Argentina – which holds a 50 percent stake in the venue, with Hipódromo de Palermo and Inverclub each holding a 25 percent stake.

By the end of this year, the property is expected to have contributed around $135m in tax revenue to the capital’s coffers.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, the mayor of Buenos Aires, reportedly looking at ways to keep the venue afloat, despite the anti-gaming sentiments held by a number of his fellows in Cambiemos.

“We are in favour of nationalising the casino but not of the licence concession,” said Guillermo De Maya, president of Buenos Aires branch of the Radical Civic Union (UCR) party, part of Cambiemos. “Radicalism is not going to support hand-ing the casino over to private interests.”

Rodríguez Larreta has asked the capi- tal’s regulator, LOTBA, to analyse either nationalising the casino or holding a licence tender for its slot machine opera- tions, while allowing the state to run table games. The latter arrangement would be similar to that used in Buenos Aires Province, which is legislatively separate from the national capital.

Either option would be difficult to implement, leading local media to propose that the most straightforward out- come would be if Casino Puerto Madero’s operators were able to obtain a licence extension through the courts.

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