In a letter published in the Chilean press, interest group for the SWP (Skill with Prizes) industry; FIDEN, has reacted strongly to claims made by the casino industry that falling revenues are down to the smoking ban and the rise of so called ‘Casinos of the People.’
It is estimated that there could be as many as 150,000 slot machines located in slot parlours with a further 50,000 slot machines located in small businesses and shops in Chile. Known locally as ‘casinos of the people’ or ‘neighbourhood slots’ they have been able to grow so quickly as local governments have not drawn a clear line between slot machines and Skill with Prizes Machines.
The letter came in responses to recent statements made by Rodrigo Guíñez, Head of The Association of Chilean Casinos (ACCJ) who said his association was doing everything in its power to fight illegal gambling in the courts and lobby for change to Chile’s gaming laws so that local authorities would have more powers when it comes to closing down slot machine parlours in their jurisdictions. This is after the Chilean Gaming Control Board (SCJ) reported that gross gaming income generated by the 17 casinos licenced in Chile stood at US$594.8m in 2012 and US$ 479m in 2013; a 19.5 per cent year on year decrease. The industry also reported a significant decrease in visitor numbers with visitors falling by 17.3 per cent. Falling revenues have been blamed on the smoking ban which into effect on March 1 2013 and a rapid increase in illegal slot machines.
The President of FIDEN argued that a clear distinction had to be drawn between both industries and said that the casinos industry
could not simply blame falling revenues on the SWP industry and the smoking ban.
He said in the letter: “The Smoking Law has affected casinos as much as they have other commercial industries including the entertainment industry. We don’t see them seeking any kind of compensation. Even more difficult to understand is the complaint of less income than they expected by blaming local businesses that operate street slots which apart from their physical resemblance technically are definitely not slot machines. “
“The entertainment industry with electronic machines is aimed at a public with a middle to lower class income whose amount destined for entertainment purposes would hardly stretch to pay the entrance fee let alone play and eat at a casino. According to well established figures players spend between $40.000 (around US$70) and $50.000 (around US$90) in a casino. In our establishments this amount does not go beyond $4 (US$7) to 5 thousand (US$9).”
“There is no reason why less income should be blamed on our local entertainment centres unless they (casino operators) expect that the governing body will grant them a compensation which would extent the monopoly which is already granted to them by law and lets them appropriate the popular entertainment arcade industry as we well as the emerging online business.”