Latin America’s gaming industry is becoming one of the biggest drivers of the region’s economy, and Uruguay is catching on. While there are a number of gambling halls in the country, there are currently just four casinos, though that will soon change.
The President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, signed a decree on December 28 that enables the construction of a hotel project in the city of Paysandú. The property will reportedly cost around $22 million, with financing coming via a group of Argentine investors.
The resort will have a casino, an “upper-class” hotel, convention center, and restaurants. There is no information on the projected date of its grand opening.
Government Agencies Support Casino Expansion
The Ministries of Economy, Finance, and Tourism reportedly worked in tandem to secure the approval process. They jointly prepared technical studies to verify the potential of the project, which Pou sealed with the signing of the decree.
The project also required technical studies by the Ministries of Transportation and Public Works, which didn’t uncover any reasons to prevent it from advancing. Despite all of the government red tape, the mayor of Paysandú, Nicolas Olivera, said the president’s approval was given in “record time.”
Olivera highlighted in a statement the speed and confidentiality in the actions of the national government. He played a role in its approval as well, having spent the past year making contact with the Argentine investors.
Olivera stressed that with the approval, the investors can confidently forge ahead with the next phase. They reportedly already have a project design in mind, which should keep everything moving forward quickly.
The initiative is from local Uruguayan company Arena Paysandú, which will hold the license for the casino. With all of the different components in place, it’s now time to finalize the technical aspects of the project before construction can begin.
That means issuing concessions to construction and development companies. In addition to the buildings, there is also infrastructure and other work needed. The government anticipates it will spend around $60 million to upgrade the area.
This is the second casino project to find approval in the country recently. About a week before Pou signed off on the Paysandú resort, a casino in Punta del Este received the green light to move forward.
Tourism Means Big Business
Tourism is a massive industry that generated over $8.35 trillion in 2022, according to Reuters. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was worth around $9 trillion. Now analysts expect the industry to be worth almost $10 trillion by the end of this year.
Uruguay wants to capitalize on that growth and expects casinos to help. A legislative order from 2021 paved the way for the new casino in Paysandú, which will join those in Nogaró, Piriápolis, Rivera, and Victoria Plaza. There are additionally two private casinos, located in Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa and Enjoy Punta del Este Casino & Resort.
Uruguay’s tourism market isn’t the largest, but it’s consistently growing. Last year, it was reportedly worth around $225 million, and the country expects to see 5% growth each year for the next several years, according to Statista.
Land-based gambling isn’t the only segment that’s expected to help the country’s economy. There is also a push for online gambling, which continues to make its way through the bureaucratic maze. However, the discussion on that will have to wait until later this year.
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