Posted on: October 28, 2022, 08:34h.
Last updated on: October 30, 2022, 08:59h.
Portuguese gaming authorities have made their decision regarding who gets a new license for two casinos. The results of the bidding process weren’t too shocking, given that the man behind one of the two companies is on trial for running illegal gambling operations.
The public tender selection committee granting the Estoril Gaming Zone concession, which includes the casino in the cities of Estoril and Lisbon, dropped a proposal by late arrival Bidluck. As a result, it returned the concession to the Estoril Sol group, whose controlling interest is owned by the family of the late gaming mogul Stanley Ho.
The Ho family faced a real threat of losing its position in the country. When Bidluck entered the race, it offered $20 million more for the concession. However, ongoing legal issues canceled out any money it could have thrown at Portugal.
No One Wants in on Portugal Gaming
In a statement on Wednesday, Estoril Sol confirmed it received word of its acceptance through a preliminary report analyzing the proposals. The company, the largest gaming operator in Portugal, next has to present its final proposal for approval.
The almost unknown Bidluck entered the race almost at the last minute. It offered €86 million (US$85.84 million) per year between fixed and variable amounts in an attempt to out-maneuver Estoril Sol.
Bidluck belongs to bookmaker B-Lucky Entertainment BV, which has business registration in Curaçao. The chances of the Curacao-licensed company securing the concession were never great. Media outlet Público reported last week that Jorge Manuel Galvão Miguel, director of Bidluck SA, is on trial for illegal gambling.
Along with four other defendants, he’s charged with installing unlicensed gaming machines in cafes and snack bars in the central region of the country.
The concessions of the Estoril and Lisbon casino, as well as that of the municipality of Figueira da Foz, were to expire at the end of 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they received a two-year extension.
The Figueira da Foz casino concession will remain in the hands of Amorim Turismo. It was the only company to submit a proposal before the September 30 deadline.
The concessions are valid for 15 years, but can be extended for an additional five.
Ho Family Stays in Portugal
Amorim Turismo also owns 32.7% of Estoril Sol. However, Finansol holds a controlling 57.8% stake. That company is a subsidiary of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, which also has control of Macau licensee SJM Resorts.
The chair of Estoril Sol is Pansy Ho, the daughter of the late Stanley Ho. She is also the cochair of MGM China, as well as other gaming-related companies.
Estoril Sol reported €80.6 million (US$80.4 million) in net revenue for 2021. This was a 9% drop from the year before. At the same time, the group’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased by 108%. It finally closed at €10.6 million (US$10.74 million).
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