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Chile – Supreme Court decision to finally end legal battle over Chillán licence

By - 13 June 2016

Chile’s Supreme Court has upheld the ruling made by the Concepción Court of Appeals, which in March decided to reject the appeal filed last December by the Spanish-Argentine consortium Boldt Peralada against the Regional Government of Bio Bio.

In November the Regional Council of Bio Bio rejected the proposal put forward by the Boldt-Peralada group for the third time for a casino in the capital of the province of Ñuble. The vote was then upheld by the Concepción Court of Appeals one of Chile’s highest courts which declared that the Boldt Peralada projected site for the casino in Chillán was too close to an educational-establishment and violated aspects of Regional Development Strategy.

However Boldt-Peralada had appealed to the Supreme Court claiming that the decision of the Regional Council had been arbitrary and illegal as the council had no right to award points on the basis of technicalities. In addition lawyers representing Boldt-Peralada argued that the Regional Council had contradicted itself as the Marina del Sol Casino located in Talcahuano in the same region is near a number of educational facilities.

On Thursday (June 9) the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the decision made by the Court of Appeals of Concepción, and in its judgment ruled that the Regional Council had acted within its legal and regulatory powers, and with sufficient grounds, to negatively evaluate the impact of the site proposed by Boldt-Peralada, as it proposes the installation of a casino in a neighbourhood in close proximity to an educational establishment.

The decision should finally bring to an end an increasingly bitter legal battle which has been raging for over two years as the Supreme Court provides irrefutable backing for the the Regional Council’s decision.

In December nineteen members of the Council voted against the Boldt Peralada project and showed support once again instead for the project of its rival: Chilean-Canadian operator Marina del Sol. The vote of the 28 directors of the council stood at 19 votes against the Spanish-Argentine consortium, 6 in their favour and three abstentions. The Regional Council has the power to decide on 300 points of the tender process.

After the Supreme Court decision was announced last week Marina del Sol in a statement, rejected the “wrong and thoughtless thesis put forward repeatedly, by the representative of the Boldt Group, Ricardo Abdala, through public media.” The company went onto to say that “the correct interpretation of the laws and applicable regulations have finally been clarified,” and that the “unfounded accusations,” had been “undermined” by The Supreme Court.

However Bold Peralada has one last legal card to play. In May the group also put in a request before the Comptroller General of Chile (General Accounting Office) raising questions over the licensing process specifically regarding the Chilean Gaming Control Board’s alleged failure to deliver a report to the proper authorities on time which would have ruled out Marina del Sol from the bidding process. The report, which was prepared in May 2015, argued, according to local press reports, that the company had not complied with the requirement to have in place the necessary legal financial support in terms of a bank guarantee during the tender process.

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