It now seems that the fate of two casino ships which are docked in a harbor of Buenos Aires at present are in the hands of the Argentine Supreme Court. On November 13, a news release confirmed that the court is hearing a complaint currently by the government of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The lawsuit asks the court to ban the casinos from operating since their license expired in October.
The contract which was held by the floating casinos operators expired on October 8, according to the filing. An initial ban was requested to stop the operators from conducting business; however, the National Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the floating ships.
The company contests the suit by saying that a gross increase in taxes and an unexpected fee was the reason why they failed to meet their contractual obligations. Initially the court agreed, declining the cease and desist plea.
Now the case moves to the highest court in the country, who will not just decide if the company can continue to work, but they may have to decide if a provision must be amended within the Constitution of Buenos Aires.
The CaIvinayre website says, in 1999, when Estrella de la Fortuna (the Fortune Star) first was given an operating license, it seemed that it would be a conflicting relationship. They were the first riverboat casino permitted to operate; however, this was against the city of Buenos Aires’ Constitution which prohibited any private gambling operation within the city limits. The national government awarded the license despite this provision, saying that the casino boat was not really on the soil of Buenos Aires.
A second ship was given a license too after seven years. The city tried to challenge the license, especially since they could not charge taxes on the gambling operations; however, the judge handling the cause ruled in favor of the casino.
In 2016, Mauricio Macri got elected as the new president of Argentina. He chose to increase the fee for the casinos to operate from 20% to 30%. Also, he authorized the transfer of gaming jurisdiction to the city government of Buenos Aires. They started charging a 12% gross receipts tax on all gaming operations.
Claiming that the new taxes automatically extended the contract, Estrella de la Fortuna filed the suit against both the city and national governments. A judge agreed with that ruling in April, suspending the end of the contract. The city appealed and won. A spokesman for the city explained, “For us, the contract is expired since October 8. That is why we now file a complaint proceeding with the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, we will continue charging the fee and gross receipt tax.”
Although the case moves to the Supreme Court, that does not imply it will be decided quickly. No deadlines have been placed upon the court with regard to when they are to rule, which could imply they could take years before making a decision.