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CR88-p26-America S2:SJC-Casino Review 21/1/10 18:54 Page 1
Carrasco refurbishment to begin
Having been awarded the 30-year concession to operate a casino
at the Carrasco hotel last November, Codere and partner Sofitel
have now obtained the planning permissions to start work on
refurbishing the iconic venue in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
The process is expected to take 20 months to complete and to
cost around US$60m (E41.4m). In addition to the casino, there will
be 116 rooms, a spa, restaurants and a convention hall.
Ex-president to be prosecuted
over licence kickbacks
Panama’s controversial former leader Ernesto Pérez profile, powerful and
Balladares has had to deal with allegations about his conduct
wealthy a figure as Pérez Bal-
while in office and about where his great wealth originates: now a
ladares will ever be tried,
convicted or punished. Jus-
scandal involving him, his son-in-law and, eventually, the investment
tices of the Supreme Court
arm of Cirsa has led to a criminal prosecution.
annulled a previous corrup-
tion case that found he had
taken money from a
casetoanswer sion (unlike other operators The order to arrest the ex- company that illegally took
PANAMA that handed over millions of president was made on 28 over ports and waterway
dollars) and granted it a December: prosecutors services, many of whom had
Ernesto Pérez Balladares, special ten per cent rate of wanted to bring him in for a been appointed by Pérez Bal-
president of Panama until income tax. Panama Cirsa, a formal interrogation and pos- ladares. There are also ques-
1999, has been arrested and subsidiary of Cirsa, subse- sibly take him into custody. tions about his Masonic
is to be prosecuted for quently took a 71 per cent There had been rumours connections and whether
allegedly laundering the pro- stake in Lucky Games in about an imminent arrest in they might interfere with the
ceeds of kickbacks he is said 2007, with another share the previous days - and Pérez case: he is reported to have
to have received from a going to a company called Balladares was said to be in sponsored the National
casino operator awarded a Shelf Holdings, controlled by Nicaragua on a private visit. Police Chief Gustav Pérez for
favourable licence in the last Pérez Balladares Police went to two of his res- his membership of the
days of his presidency. State prosecutors investi- idences in Punta Barco and Masons. However poles of
The Panamanian press has gating the matter now Panama City but with power have shifted in
pursued the story vigorously, accuse Pérez Balladares of lawyers attempting to quash Panama in recent years and
especially La Prensa, which receiving a steady flow of the warrant in court, they the public exposure of the
alleges that Pérez Balladares, payments from Lucky Games were unable to arrest him. case may prevent some tradi-
after opening the gaming through Shelf Holdings from On 29 December, he turned tional abuses of justice from
industry to private opera- the date the licence was rati- himself in and was then taking place.
tors, granted a licence to a fied in 1999 until the middle released on his own recogni-
company Lucky Games in of 2007. Pérez Balladares has sance and was due to be inter-
Former president Ernest
Pérez Balladares is facing
1997, of which his son-in-law denied receiving any money rogated formally in
formal interrogation about
Enrique Pretelt was a direc- from gambling concessions mid-January.
receiving illegal kickbacks
tor, without requiring it to that his government Inevitably there are ques- from gaming licences he
pay the state for the conces- awarded. tions about whether so high
Energy crisis restricts
casino and bingo hall hours
powertothepeople four hours every second employees have had their
VENEZUELA day have been imposed in hours cut.
order to try prevent water Bingo halls and casinos
Casinos and bingo halls, levels at the Guri Dam, have been told they may
along with shopping malls where three hydroelectric only operate between 6pm
and other commercial plants supply 73 per cent and midnight, unless they
outlets, are being forced to of the country’s electricity. are able to generate power
restrict their hours as a Some large energy users, themselves or can tap into
drought-caused energy such as state-run steel and privately generated power.
The biggest earning casino in crisis grips Venezuela. aluminium plants, have all Any operation that exceeds
Punta del Este, Casino Conrad
In the capital Caracas, but been closed down, the stated use will be fined
rolling blackouts of up to while many public sector and suspended for 24
hours. If they break the
$8m in nightly wagers
terms again, they will be
suspended for 72 hours.
The government of
in Punta del Este
Hugo Chavez has been crit-
icised for failing to ensure
that the energy infrastruc-
ture of the country is kept
successfulsummer the majority of visitors. Casino Nogaró- up to standard despite the
URUGUAY Mantra, which has recently been refurbished, wealth generated by its oil
welcomes about 6,000 visitors per night, and gas industry.
The three casino operators in the resort city of peaking at around 2am, and sees around The current restrictions
Punta del Este are together seeing an average $850,000 played. are expected to go as long
of US$8m (E5.5m) wagered every day, accord- The entire area has almost 1,100 slot as five months, until the
ing to figures released by the operators. machines and 120 tables. Casino Mantra in La rainy season returns in May.
The Conrad casino is taking the lion’s share Barra is the only venue where more is played
of the business, about 80 per cent, followed at the tables than at the slots.
by Mantra and Casinos del Estado. According to casino operators, players
The Casino Gran Bingo
Casino Conrad, which employs 2,000 from Argentina and Uruguay are now in the
Maracaibo in the western
Venezuelan city of
people, had a very busy start to 2010 and paid minority, with tourists from all over the conti-
Maracaibo, like all others in
out more than $9m (E6.2m) in prizes in the first nent and the world to enjoy the summer on the the country, is subject to
ten days of the year, with women making up Punta del Este peninsula. restricted opening hours
26 February 2010 • south&centralamericannews
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