Mayors from the seven municipalities which operate casinos in Chile have met in Viña del Mar to discuss the next stage in their plans to protect their casino concessions.
Head of the campaign and Mayor of Viña del Mar, Virginia Reginato, said: “Unfortunately President Piñera did not meet to listen to us. Now we are starting from scratch, but we will not stop fighting.”
She also confirmed that The Association of Municipal Casinos plans to make a formal request to meet with newly elected President Michelle Bachelet in March to underline their fears. Expressing her belief that the President would listen to their arguments she said that the seven mayors met again: “with the aim of refining agreements which we will put forward to the new authorities of the government and President Michelle Bachelet in defence of our common interests,” adding that it was now a matter of “urgency” that the government act quickly in order to prevent a “tragedy.”
In 2005 Chile passed a gaming law which allowed for the construction of eighteen additional casinos to the seven municipal casinos already in operation. The licence for the seven other casinos in Chile ends on 31 December 2015. The casinos which were already licensed before the new act come under the supervision of the local municipalities where they are located and are a vital source of funding. Combined they generate around US$90m a year in tax revenue for local governments. However, from the beginning of 2016 the seven casinos will come under the supervision of the Chilean Gaming Board and the tax will be split equally between the local municipality and the central government
The municipalities of Coquimbo, Viña del Mar, Arica, Iquique, Pucon, Puerto Varas and Puerto Natales are concerned that the municipal funds will be affected. In 2013
the seven Chilean mayors launched a campaign to ensure that their cities did not lose out on gaming tax revenue in 2016. Officials have warned that changes in licensing could have a significant impact on the local economy as they could lose out from 20 to 40 per cent of yearly revenue should they lose their casino concessions.