Argentina’s Casino of Mendoza Moving Forward After Licensee Evicted

The Provincial Institute of Games and Casinos (IPJyC, for its Spanish acronym) in Mendoza, Argentina does not have a reopening date for the Casino of Mendoza. However, the new concessionaire is already working on firing up new slot machines following the controversial eviction of its predecessor.

Casino de Mendoza, Argentina
Casino de Mendoza, Argentina
Casino de Mendoza in Mendoza, Argentina at night. The casino remains closed after a change of hands, but could open at any time. (Image: El Sol)

For the past two weeks, the casino’s doors have remained closed after a controversial tender process.  The government still does not have an established reopening date.

The local government launched its new tender for the casino in August last year as the previous tender that Mendoza Central Entretenimientos (MCE) owned was coming to an end. Eventually, the IPJyC gave the casino to Traylon S.A, a decision that some had a difficult time accepting.

Casino Returns to its Roots

Traylon competed with Desarrollos Maipú, Plaza Central, a company formed by MCE and Nuevo Plaza Hotel Mendoza, and Fuente Mayor. The latter ultimately pulled out of the bidding process.

In its proposal, Traylon committed to invest ARS2 billion (US$65.32 million) to remodel the building. In addition, it promised to install 720 slot machines that are no more than six months old.

Exactly one week ago, MCE removed the slots after the five-day deadline for them to do so had passed. In principle, this process should have begun after the casino’s closure on July 22.

Seven days after that fact, the slot machines of the new ownership have now arrived. Traylon, the company of Ricardo Benedicto has already begun to install a portion of the 720 slots that it committed in the tender.

Benedicto is linked to Cristóbal López, an Argentine entrepreneur and the original owner of the casino. He took an unscheduled break for several reasons, including a brief stint in jail for tax evasion. Back in the public eye, he began a campaign to recover the casino.

His efforts paid off; however, MCE wasn’t willing to give up. Despite no legal grounds, it didn’t immediately hand over the keys to Traylon and was ultimately forced to vacate the premises.

The original deadline for the installation and commissioning of 400 of the 720 slots was 48 hours, but what happened with MCE delayed the entire process. Finally, the change of the gaming equipment and its configuration is occurring almost two weeks later than planned.

Picking Up the Pieces

The concession specifications indicated that, with the slots on the floor, the casino should be able to open within 48 hours. However, MCE’s shenanigans changed the timeline considerably.

In addition to delaying the installation of the machines, MCE also delayed remodeling work that the casino needs to complete before opening. Added to that is the uncertainty that exists among the casino’s employees. Some are performing administrative tasks in the casino, while others are providing services in other gaming rooms in the province.

In addition, there are more than a few waiting for the phone to ring to tell them they can return to work. Almost all of the previous workforce is still receiving a paycheck, but aren’t nearly receiving the amount they did previously. Where they were earning tips as croupiers or servers before, now there are none.

Although a reopening should be imminent, the provincial government isn’t rushing. It told local media outlets that it will make an official announcement when it’s ready. In the meantime, the casino will lose money, as well as possible interest on the part of gamblers.

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