News | Wednesday, 06 May 2009

Betting shop franchise to bid for Dragonara Casino

Karl Stagno-Navarra

Pinnacle Gaming Group - the company behind the betting shop franchise Fairplay - will be bidding for the long-awaited Dragonara Casino tender issued by government yesterday, Business Today can confirm.
On their part, current operators Accor-Lucien Barrier admit that the current conditions “highly discourage” them to continue their operation, while government is reportedly asking them to extend until January 2010.
Speaking to Business Today, a Casino spokesperson expressed his disappointment with government for having “prejudiced” the sector by failing to regulate gambling outlets that have proliferated around the island.
“This has severely jeopardised the livelihoods of our 220 employees, and moreover the loss in revenue has kept us from making the necessary investments to keep the operation viable,” he said.
Figures obtained by this paper through Finance ministry sources have revealed a drop of 9.2 per cent in revenue for government from slot machines in 2008 when compared to the previous year.
Confronted with these statistics, the Casino said that the loss is due to the diversion of “controlled clients” through licensed casinos to irregular gaming halls. The machines installed in gaming halls are identical to the type of slot machines used inside a casino, and their revenues remain unknown, adding to a further loss for the government coffers.
“The necessary investment has not been made due to the government’s procrastination over whether the concession renewal would go to a request for proposals or not,” the spokesperson told Business Today. “We couldn’t make infrastructural investments when we would not be operating long enough to recoup the cost. The government position on the slots issue is making it impossible for any operator other than the illegal ones to accurately predict future revenues.”
Gaming halls around the country have become the biggest competitors for licensed casinos and are possibly also becoming their potential operation take-over.
Maltese casinos are the only ones in the world to be in possession of a hybrid license – meaning that they are allowed to organise both live games as well as online betting.



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06 May 2009

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