A new casino will be officially opened on Saturday in the city of Melo the capital city of the Cerro Largo Department.
Located around 300 metres from the previous establishment, which has been in operation for over 17 years, the General Director of Casinos, Javier Chá said that the casino will provide a boost to economic activity and tourism in the region. The city of Melo is around 60 kilometres from the Brazilian border.
A new space has been rented by the government which had been built to meet the requirements as set down by the Casino Control Board. While the new casino will not house table games it will offer the latest generation of slot machines as well as electronic casino games. The casino will be state run.
Chá said that there were “two very important projects in Melo. One is to substantially improve the facilities at the state casino. The other project is the racecourse. We are very happy with the way things are being developed,” he said. “We want to offer our alternative for entertainment through what will be a much bigger hall with a better space and services.”
Chá pointed out that the city of Melo had grown significantly of late and that it offered strong possibilities for the new casino and gaming. Indeed the town of Melo derives its name from the Hipódromo de Melo, the horse racing track. The track reopened in 2013 and the gaming board has plans to make significant improvements to the site. The track is part of the National Integrated Turf System (Sint) which was created in 2012 by the General Directorate of casinos and is made up of different racecourses all over the country including Las Piedras, Cerro Largo, Paysandú, Colonia and the largest racetrack in Uruguay – the Maroñas racetrack.
In Uruguay casinos fall either under the mixed system or are state run. Under the mixed system private investors can set up a casino in a hotel but it is the state that manages and runs the casino for which it receives in return a percentage of casino profits. The mixed system has since 1995 become increasingly popular in Uruguay especially as the wholly state run casinos have been hit by a number of corruption scandals leading in some cases to jail terms.
In the wake of these scandals the government looked set to promote the mixed system further and entirely privatise state run casinos. However, there has been a significant change of direction under the leadership of Chá who has initiated a number of renovations of state run casinos.