Chilean operator Enjoy is launching legal action against the local Municipality of Viña del Mar for what it says is the illegal collection of a guarantee for more than $500m (US$640,300). The operator has slammed the local authority’s actions as ‘abusive, arbitrary and illegal.’
The former concessionaire of the Municipal Casino of Viña del Mar, Antonio Martínez y Cía (AMC), a subsidiary of Enjoy, said: “This certainly takes us by surprise. We understand that it is an administration that is just being installed, and may be inexperienced in its actions. For the same reason, citizens expect them to be even more rigorous in their procedures, in case this is a mistake, at a time when these signals are very damaging to trust between the public and private sectors, damaging credibility and trust.”
“We have always wanted to be a strategic ally so that the municipality can make Viña del Mar a great city for its inhabitants. That is why we do not understand this act away from the spirit of collaboration that we should have in times as economically complex as the current ones,” it added.
It ran the municipal casino licence up to July 30.
The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic has said it will launch an investigation into the casino’s former operator amid claims that there was a significant difference between ticket sales at the casino and those reported with 8,369 reported, despite a projection of 439,641 tickets.
The Comptroller’s Office said: “The amount that the municipality was able to receive from the sale of tickets must have amounted to approximately $ 1,670,635,800, an amount that is considerably different from the amount actually received by that building entity for that concept, amounting to $ 31,802,200.”
It claims that Enjoy breached a number regulations, including the subcontract Enjoy gave to AMC, now a subsidiary of Enjoy through Enjoy Gestión Ltda, which saw AMC manage the Viña del Mar casino. The sub-contract allowed Enjoy Gestión Ltda to set the administration policies and procedures of the different games, monitor daily operations of the gaming tables, provide training and ongoing advice to AMC, implement operational plans and develop new games.
It also didn’t launch a website to promote tourism as required by the terms of its contract and delayed the appointment of the new general manager whilst operating fewer slot machines than it was supposed to.
Enjoy stated: “Although we have not been notified of any specific summary, it is important to emphasize that municipal casinos in Chile are governed by strict bidding rules. In this particular case, the municipal concession contract dating from the year 2000 indicates that all ticket sales at the Viña del Mar municipal casino are the exclusive responsibility of that building entity, and our company does not have any responsibility in this regard.”
Mayor Macarena Ripamonti said: “It is not pleasant to always have to give news due to the previous mismanagement, we would like to concentrate on our work. But we cannot say that, when within a few hours of taking office in July, we were notified by the regional Comptroller’s Office of an investigation at that time secret for serious breaches of the Antonio Martínez concessionaire and the Viña del Mar municipality regarding the casino concession.”