The three-horse race to secure the second casino on the island of Mallorca has been won by a group of local businessmen presenting ambitious plans to bring a casino to the Palma Balearic Theatre.
The Gran Casino Theatre Balear, which will open within a year, beat off competition from German company Merkur and Nervion, the operator of the existing casino in Porto Pi in Palma. The winning venue will cost €10m and create 170 jobs. It will see the renovation of the old theatre bringing a casino, conference, restaurants, bars and an auditorium to the space. It will include 70 slots and 13 gaming tables and bingo provided by Eusebio Cano. The group behind the project say the location in downtown Palma in Rosello Olivar market Square mirrors the current trend for casinos in Spain to be located in city centres.
Minister of the Economy, Joaquín García confirmed the victory for the theatre-based development revealing that it was narrow victory with Balearic Theatre scoring 76.69 points in its review of the three projects, compared to 75.48 for the project designed for Platja de Palma by Nervion; the existing operator on the island and 74.62 for the project once destined for Bendinat. Merkur had wanted to set up a gambling hall with 16 roulette tables and 120 slot machines in Bendinat castle. It said its development would create 160 jobs with the casino opening in June 2014. Nervion meanwhile planned to invest €95m in building a 5-star hotel in Playa de Palma with a development that would include an arcade.
The narrow victory is likely to be challenged by the losing bids. The most recent round of voting was based on the ‘personal and financial guarantees provided’ which saw the Balearic Theatre score 8.03 points, Bendinat get 10, and Platja de Palma sink without a trace with a score of just a 0.01, questioning the ability of its proponents to deal with the investment planned and that included construction of a five star hotel.
The bid for Platja de Palma, considered to be the favourite at one stage and the one with the backing of local government, scored five points in the category marked ‘proven experience in similar projects’ compared to the two zeros given to its other two competitors. Having developed casinos all over the world, Merkur is likely to contest this score with both parties believed to be considering a legal challenge.
The Minister of Economy defended the decision however, saying bringing the casino to Balearic Theatre would help revitalise the downtown area of Palma and benefit businesses that are nearby.