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Uruguay – Uruguay could make waves with cruise ship casinos

By - 6 August 2019

The governing party of Uruguay (Frente Amplio) has decided to put forward a law emitted by the Executive Power in 2017 which would allow casinos in cruise ships to operate while they are moored in Uruguayan territorial waters.

The text was first put forward in March 2017 with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, the National Administration of Puertos (ANP) and the Directorate General of Casinos.

The law is once again garnering support according to local daily El País as the topic was included for the agenda for the Commission for Industry, Energy, Commerce, Tourism and Senate Services in July. Senator Yerú Pardiñas said that he supported the initiative because the authorisation of casinos is “on restricted hours and exclusively for (use) of passengers on board.” The President of the Commission, Sandra Lazo, also gave her support to the new project while Senator Álvaro Delgado said that he was surprised that the project was resurfacing now. Finally, the senators agreed to study the subject at the Commission and to call to the authorities of the Ministry of Tourism, the ANP and the National Directorate of Casinos to hear their comments on the draft law over the upcoming sessions.

According the Minister of Tourism, Liliam Kechichián, between December 2018 and April 2019 146 cruise ships arrived in Montevideo and Punta del Este, surpassing the previous season and registering 256,000 visitors. Around 200 cruise ships are expected for the 2019-2020 season.

In January 2017 Carlos Camaño the Director of National Hydrography in Uruguay, a government department which oversees port activity and maintains and develops local waterways, first told press that a bill was being prepared which would allow for casinos in cruise ships to remain open when they arrived in both the ports of Montevideo and the Atlantic resort of Punta del Este. The new law would also allow cruise ships to remain longer and would as a result increase tourist spend in Uruguay.

The closing of casinos in cruise ships while docked in Uruguayan harbours is one of the reasons why they have in the past only stayed for a few hours in Uruguay he said. The law would encourage passengers to spend more in Uruguay and also encourage visitors to explore Uruguay more extensively.

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