Three applications have been submitted for a management contract to run the only casino owned by the government in Malta, the Dragonara Casino. The agreement is for the next ten years, commencing 15 January 2010, and the services of the present 225 employees must be retained. The government is seeking a management team with experience in casino operations and with plenty of capital to refurbish the St Julianís government building and effect improvements that will increase competitiveness within the islandís casino sector.
The three applicants bidding for the Dragonara are the present French operators, BarriŤre, Tomino Ltd, which already runs the Portomaso and Oracle casinos in Malta, and Novomatic Peninsula (Novomatic and Pinnacle Gaming), which operates most bingo halls in the country. A shortlist of bidders is due to be announced by 19 September, although all three contenders may be allowed through to the next stage. A government appointed evaluation board will make a final selection by 23 October.
In May the lack of government regulation of slot machine halls led the present operator of the Dragonara Casino to delay its application to renew its management contract. In February the CasinÚ di Venezia in Malta, Oracle CasinÚ and the Dragonara CasinÚ had initiated legal action against the Finance Ministry and the Gaming Authority chairman, claiming the high number of irregular betting shops that had begun to operate without authorisation constituted unfair competition. (E-08.28.09)
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