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Argentina – Government cuts hit casino sector ahead of summer season

By - 11 December 2023

The election of Javier Gerardo Milei as the new President of Argentina is already effecting the state run casino sector in the province of Buenos Aires according to reports in local press. Milei plans to make steep government spending cuts as part of an ambitious austerity program to balance the budget. The libertarian plans to privatize or close all state-owned companies and has promised to slash the size of the state.

Ahead of the upcoming summer season, different sectors that provide recreational services are increasing staff numbers to meet demand. Among them is the state run casino sector. The Association of Employees of National Casinos (AECN) union is already warning that there have been cuts from the provincial government in hiring personnel for the season as part of the new government policy.

The local branch of the union issued a statement in which they warned that the province had not authorised the hiring of temporary personnel that usually complement the permanent staff for the state casinos in the province. The union has linked the cuts with the “change of era in national policy.”

Since December 1988, an agreement has been in force between the National Lottery and the Buenos Aires government, successively extended to, through the Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos to assume the operation of the casinos installed in the provincial jurisdiction establishing the payment of a fee of 35% of the gross profit, with successive licence extensions.

There are now eleven casinos permitted to operate under licence by the province which in some cases are run by a private licence holder. Three casinos are located in the coastal resort of Mar del Plata: the Casino Central, the Casino del Mar and the Casino Hotel Sasso while the rest are dotted throughout the province of Buenos Aires.

However, the AECN has warned that, unlike other summer seasons, temporary staff who usually work in the province’s casinos have not yet been hired including a number who should already be working.

“The change of era in national politics is beginning to have its impact in the province of Buenos Aires. As a first measure, the hiring of temporary personnel to be ready for the next summer season was not authorized,” said union leader, Marcos Labrador.

The union official indicated that in the last four months they had carried out training in which they had prepared 180 applicants in seven casinos in the province “to have qualified personnel that allows us to operate the casinos in the best conditions, especially in coastal cities,” he explained. Furthermore he stressed that the inclusion of temporary workers in provincial casinos during the summer “is an investment and not an expense . . . With more personnel we could operate our casinos in better conditions,” he said.

Javier Milei, the far right presidential candidate, won the Argentina presidential election, defeating centre-left candidate Sergio Massa in November. Sometimes dubbed “El Loco” (the madman) by his critics, Milei has promised drastic changes, which include ditching the local currency, the peso, for the US dollar and “blowing up” the central bank in order to prevent it from printing more money, which he argues is driving inflation.

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