Andorra – Company Jocs SA beats international competition for Andorra casino licenceBy Phil - 29 June 2018
Company Jocs SA has won the tender to build and operate the new casino in Andorra. With 100 per cent capital coming from Andorra, the company plans to build the casino on Prat de la Creu street in the capital of the Principality of Andorra, Andorra la Vella.
The former mayor of the city of Ordino, Ventura Espot, is the director of the company and other local businesspersons are also part of the company including Gilbert Montané (Vice President); the President of the Automobile Club, Enric Pujal; and the Director of Bingo Star’s also located in the capital Marc Martos (Secretary).
The company will invest a total of €16m in the project, expect to generate € 12m a year and attract 190,000 visitors. The winner has fifteen days to apply for the license. The general director the Andorran Gaming Control Board (CRAJ) Xavier Bardina explained that the decision was made on Tuesday, once all the reports made by the different teams of the board were put together. The board evaluated the criteria established in the tender specifications, and made it clear that each team worked in an isolated and independent manner, to preserve data confidentiality.
The Andorran company, together with its Austrian technological partner Novomatic, plans to build a four-storey building including two underground car parks, which will span a total area of 4,000 square meters in all. It will be built on the grounds of an old skate park. Bardina noted that, although the contest allowed smoking rooms, the casino will be 100 per cent smoke free.
According to the CRAJ, operators had to first show the availability of land, building or premises for the casino and show that it must have at least 2,000 square meters for the public, not including terraces and outdoor spaces. Once this has been established the board, along with other government bodies, awarded points based on a number of key criteria. These included architectural design, location, the quality of the proposed project, its integration into the landscape, the size of the casino, catering services as well as the number of jobs it will create and the overall economic impact of the new project.
However, the CRAJ director limited himself to explaining the details of the winning proposal without revealing any more details when it came to the scores for each project. He did, however, say that the project “will create some 200 jobs.”
The tender received nine applicants from business groups, which presented 13 projects. Other applicants were the French Barrière Group, Partouche Group, PVG Casinos, Grupo Reinau-Casino du Golfe, Casinos of Austria; Genting, Cirsa and Russian company Mercury.
Xavier Bardina explained that the Genting group’s proposal had been excluded because it had been unable to demonstrate the availability of the land where the company wanted to build the casino. Genting Casinos UK had announced plans to invest €140m in the construction of an integrated casino-resort in Andorra, which would have made it the largest foreign investment in the history of the Principality. The other proposals were valued between €12m and €18m.
Once the Official Bulletin of the Principality of Andorra publishes the edict announcing the adjudication of the contest, Jocs SA has fifteen working days to formalise the application for a Class A gaming license to operate the casino, and then the government has two months to resolve the request. The license will determine the duration, the games which will be allowed on site, the opening hours and the maximum period in which it must be open to the public, which the Government calculates will be about two years.
The other companies which took part in the tender will have a period of one month to request copies of the corresponding reports in order to analyse them and to exercise their right to challenge the decision if they consider it appropriate.
Asked about the possibility that Genting could challenge the award, Bardina said that they had been excluded on a “purely technical” issue, and that everyone was aware that in the tender that there were some rules which needed to be followed but added that everyone had the right to challenge the decision.
In 2013, the government first gave the go ahead to a single casino licence. Casinos had until then been banned from the Catalan-speaking country, which operates as a tax haven. In January 2015, the legislative committee of Andorra completed the draft of a bill that paved the way for a land-based casino and online gaming in the tiny Pyrenees country, located on the border between France and Spain. The Minister of the Presidency, Antoni Riberaygua, said at the time that the opening of the gambling market in Andorra would be achieved gradually and expressed his hope that the addition of a casino would boost tourism to the principality, which has over 10m visitors each year.
In July 2017, the Council of Ministers for the Principality of Andorra approved the specifications to tender the casino license. CRAJ said it would award additional points if it was located in the most popular tourist zones. According to the rules of the tender, the future casino had to have a minimum area of 2,000 square meters for the public and have a minimum of 100 parking spaces. The project had to have at least one gaming machine room with a minimum of 150 gaming positions, a traditional table room with a minimum of 50 gaming positions, a poker room, a live betting room and a multipurpose room for shows and conferences. The licence will be for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20.