Casinos Austria is to take Argentina and the province of Salta to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes at the World Bank over the revocation of its licence.
The company is demanding payment of US$150m in compensation.
According to the complaint lodged with the courts, Argentina must now submit evidence to substantiate the charges before an international tribunal over ‘claims arising out of the revocation of a license to operate games of chance and lottery held by the claimant’s local subsidiary under alleged concerns of money laundering.’
Casinos Austria International has been present in Salta since December 2006 when the company acquired a majority interest in Leisure & Entertainment (L & E) a company that owns 90 per cent of the shares of gaming company Enjasa. Enjasa was given the exclusive right to run gaming in the province after gaming was privatised in Salta in 1998.
Under a new deal which was agreed in October 2013 it was agreed that Casinos Austria would own 100 per cent of Leisure and Entertainment SA; Enjasa’s mother company. Casinos Austria agreed to the deal after discussions with the local government of Salta and agreeing to promote tourism and the entertainment sector in the province. In a press release at the time the company said that it has much to add in the future growth of both Austrian and European tourism in the province.
However, in August 2013 the Minister of Economy, Carlos Parodi announced that the company’s license would be revoked due to apparent breeches in anti-money laundering standards. The regulatory gaming body denied the motion for reconsideration filed by ENJASA to continue managing raffles, lotteries, bingos, slot machines and casinos and governor Juan Manuel Urtubey revoked the company’s contract by decree in 2013.
If the province of Salta loses the case then the federal government will take the money earmarked for the state and pay it directly in order to settle the amount due.
Casino Austria is a leading national and international gaming company. The company together with its partners operates in about 40 land-based casinos in 16 countries and the company has been present in Argentina since 1998. Casino Salta was located within the Sheraton Salta and operated with 140 slots and a host of table games.