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Chile – Marina Del Sol accuses ex-gaming board boss of bias

By - 15 February 2016

Chilean company Marina del Sol has accused the ex Head of the Chilean Gaming Control Board (SJC) Renato Hamel of favouring its rival the Boldt Group Peralada during the tender for the Ovalle casino in 2013 and more recently for the casino in Chillán.

The company has accused Mr Hamel, who resigned last week, of discriminatory treatment and said that instructions sent by the (SCJ) to the Regional Government of Coquimbo had favoured Boldt Peralada and undermined proposals made by both Dreams and Spanish gaming group EGASA in 2013.

After Mr Hamel’s resignation Marina del Sol expressed their hope that that the appointment of the new head of the SCJ would be “an opportunity to ensure full equality for companies in the industry,” and went onto say that: “The conviction that this kind of situation can not be repeated, motivates Marina del Sol to express their wish that the appointments of the President of the Republic can overcome this once and for all.”

Controversy has been growing in the industry over recent months over the tender processes in Ovalle and Chillán. In 2013 it was announced that representatives of the Spanish Argentine group Ovalle Casino Resort SA (Invergaming-Spain and Boldt-Argentina) had won the rights to operate the then final casino licence in Chile beating rivals EGASA and Dreams. The announcement had ended a yearlong process during which Ovalle Casino Resort had gradually emerged as firm favourites to win.

Meanwhile, the tender process for the casino in Chillan has now been delayed for two years as both Boldt Peralada and Marina del Sol battling it out over the licence. In November the Regional Council of Bio Bio rejected the proposal put forward by 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.

The tender process has become increasingly acrimonious with accusations of inconsistencies from both sides. In November 2015 the SCJ had to defend itself against reports in local media which claimed that it had failed to deliver a report to the proper authorities on time which would have ruled out Marina del Sol from the bidding process. Then in December 2015 General Manager of Marina del Sol, Juan Ignacio Ugarte, claimed that Boldt Peralada was putting undue pressure on Undersecretary of the Treasury Chile, Alejandro Micco.

The announcement that Renato Hamel would resign came last week 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 had been head of the SJC for over three years.

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