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Chile – Controversy grows in Chillan as Head of Gaming Board resigns

By - 11 February 2016

The Head of the Chilean Gaming Control Board (SJC) Renato Hamel is to resign with local press stating that the reason could be down to the growing controversy over the awarding of the licence in Chillan.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the request for Mr Hamel’s resignation was made by the President of Chile Michelle Bachelet herself. Mr Hamel has been head of the SJC for over three years and the position will be filled temporarily by Daniel García Fernández, a civil engineer who served as Director of Management Services of the Ministry of Finance.

Mr Hamel was appointed during the administration of Sebastián Piñera in May 2012. His resignation comes as the Court of Appeals of Concepción has announced its decision to call upon the Chilean Gaming Control Board (SCJ) for its say in the matter over the controversy surrounding the tender for the new casino in Chillan.

The tender process has now been delayed for two years and in November the Regional Council of Bio Bio rejected the proposal put forward by the Argentine -Spanish Boldt-Peralada group for the third time for a casino in the capital of the province of Ñuble; one of four provinces of the Chilean region of Bío Bío.

Now that the Argentine -Spanish Boldt-Peralada plans to file a third writ of protection against the regional council the court has called upon the SJC to intervene. The court has asked the SJC for its opinion of the writ of protection and to make a pronouncement on the issue. The SJC has five days in which to respond.

The regional council was forced to vote again after the court invalidated the previous two ballots after the lawyer representing Boldt-Peralada, Ricardo Abdala argued successfully that lawmakers had exceeded their powers as stipulated by Chile’s gaming law. According to Mr Abdala, regional councillors should have confined themselves to voting on specific points revolving around the destination of the project only and how it would fit in with overall regional strategy as opposed to specific technical points when it came to each project. After the Regional Council voted against the Boldt Peralada group again last November Mr Abdala said that he would once again contest the decision saying that the council had acted unfairly in favour of Chilean-Canadian operator Marina del Sol.

Controversy grew further when reports emerged in local media in November last year which claimed that the SJC had failed to deliver a report to the proper authorities on time which would have ruled out Marina del Sol from the bidding process altogether. However, a spokesman for SJC described the article in the newspaper at the time as ‘absolutely false.’

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