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Spain – Tenerife’s state-owned casinos should not be privatised

By - 11 December 2017

Councillor from the Podemos (We Can) Party Julio Concepción has said that the casinos on the island of Tenerife were still making a profit despite the efforts of the present government to dismantle them.

According to Concepción, the three casinos will report a profit of €2.1m this year adding that profits would have been much higher if it had not been for the present policies of The President of the Council of Tenerife Carlos Alonso. According to Concepción, Alonso has employed “the neoliberal policy of cuts in staff and cuts in investment in material resources” to justify the privatisation of the casinos on the island.

Concepción said that the current standard of casinos in Tenerife were at historic lows, “to the point that, as confirmed by those who work in these facilities, the quality of the service that is being provided to the clientele has fallen markedly in recent years due to lack of personnel.”

Concepción added that spending cuts on personnel had amounted to more than €2.6m since 2007. In addition, he warned that the government planned a further €300,000 in cuts in staff expenditure next year, which will put labour costs at its lowest levels for 17 years.

Concepción said that his party was lobbying for a salary increase for casino staff and the creation of new high quality jobs but had been hampered by “the unreasonableness of the government.”

Casinos in Tenerife have been the focal point of controversy ever since 2014 when it was announced that casinos were to be privatised with then newly elected President of the Council Carlos Alonso saying that he supported plans to open casinos in hotels. While the administration was at pains to express that the opening up of the market would not hail in a new era of Las Vegas type gaming on the island, it was hoped that if the market was liberalised then it could bring significant investment in the area and increase the number of attractions currently on offer.

However, unions and many officials have been against the move from the beginning and have delayed the process. In May 2016 Concepción, said that the sale of the casinos was a “disgrace” “irresponsible” and an example of “arbitrary” policy that would have no benefit on the local community.

All the same, in November 2016 Carlos Alonso said that his goal was to put the casinos forward for tender “as soon as possible.”According to the official: “The sale of the casinos will serve to increase the competitiveness of tourist activity on the island.” This he said had been the initial goal when the local government first allowed casinos on the island more than 30 years ago.

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