Cape Verde’s parliament approves law liberalizing the casino gambling sector

26 February 2010

Praia, Cape Verde, 26 Feb – The Cape Verdean parliament has approved a bill amending the legal framework governing the operation of games of fortune or chance to allow competition in the sector, besides lowering the amounts to pay to open casinos.

The Minister for Economy, Growth and Competitiveness, Fatima Fialho, said the government’s bill aimed to open the sector to competition, contrary to the 2005 law which mandated the exclusive concession of gaming contracts. But she added that “with the new law there can be exclusivity if the government so understands.”

The premium to pay by concession operators was reduced by the new law approved on Thursday. A fixed amount of from 20 million to 264 million escudos has been set, along with a variable amount to be paid throughout the concession’s lifetime.

Under the previous law a concessionaire had to pay a premium of more than 200 million escudos (1.8 million euros).

During the debate an opposition MP questioned the reason for revising the law, given that the 2005 version had yet to be tested in practice. The minister explained that the 2005 law was enacted in a very special context when there were prospects that a major investor would enter, which did not happen.

The law still in force limited casinos to five-star hotels, while the new bill lowers the requirement to four or more stars, on the understanding that “for Cape Verde’s reality, four-star hotels provide all security and credibility guarantees,” Fialho said.

The government is working to set up a gaming control department and to prepare inspectors, and has been in contact with Macau and Portugal regarding training, she added.