Tuesday
September 30, 2014

Conversations between his company and SCP have not been denied

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cristóbal López looks toward Tigre Casino

By Federico Poore
Herald Staff
Gaming czar Cristóbal López is close to signing a deal with troubled company Sociedad Comercial del Plata (SCP) to buy its 50-percent share of Trilenium, a casino located in the northern Greater Buenos Aires district of Tigre.

The Tigre Casino, built in 1999 following special permission granted by former governor Eduardo Duhalde, has been operated by Trilenium SA, a partnership between SCP and gaming company Boldt.

According to specialized news portal Ding News, negotiations over SCP’s share in the popular casino began in November and were led by Ricardo Benedicto, one of López’s partners at Casino Club.

The operation could be worth US$10 million.

“Nothing has been signed yet, but Cristóbal López has offered to buy 50 percent of Trilenium,” a high-level source from Boldt told the Herald.

He was referring to the shares owned by its partner SCP. Since the company led by Santiago Soldati — a high-profile businessman during the ‘90s — has filed for bankruptcy, the offer must be approved by “the judge running the case,” the Boldt source added. Earlier, sources from Casino Club confirmed the news to newspaper Perfil.

Should the operation succeed, long-time business enemies Boldt and Cristóbal López would be running one of the biggest casino operations in Latin America.

An unexpected partner

Boldt SA is led by Antonio Ángel Tabanelli, who for decades has been part of the local security printing industry until he entered the gaming sector in the late 80s.

In 1993, the company was awarded a no-bid contract to systematize information related to gambling — mainly, to process all lottery tickets played in the Buenos Aires province. Two years later, Tabanelli was awarded another business: the renting of slot machines and other gaming equipment to all state-run casinos in the district.

Finally, in 1999, Boldt offered the provincial administration to build and run a three-story casino in Tigre, a move questioned by opposition representatives who claimed the decision would violate article 37 of the provincial Constitution that forbade the privatization of gambling activities in the district.

The permission to operate the Tigre Casino and its 2,200 slot machines technically expired on December 1, last year. But the company continued to run its business while it demanded the Daniel Scioli provincial administration the renewal of its license, like he did back in July 2011.

As public tenders have never been offered, gaming companies have established close relationships with governors and heads of the Provincial Lottery Institute (IPLyC in Spanish).

Last month, the PRO administration led by Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri — with a little help from Victory Front (FpV) City lawmakers — passed a bill exempting Cristóbal López from paying gross revenue taxes in the district.

@fedebillie

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