Slovenian mayors in favour of EUR 750 mln gaming resort construction

Unlike local civil initiatives, the mayors of western Slovenia are in favour of a EUR 750 mln gaming resort that US company Harrah’s Entertainment plans to build there with its local partner Hit, provided certain issues they deem vital are tackled, Slovene Press Agency reports.

Mayor of Sempeter-Vrtojba Dragan Valencic, who presented positions of the local community, added though that the meeting with Harrah’s senior executive Jan Jones did not yield any specific new information on the project. Jones said the meeting was an opportunity both for Harrah’s and for Hit to get acquainted with the mayors‘ hesitations, while they were aware of the need for caution and respect for the region’s beauties in such a big project.

She said this was only the beginning of dialogue with local communities, while the next step would be to look for solutions that would meet the demands of the local community. She added that the aim is to create a project that will enable the growth of tourism, contribute to economic development, support local companies, create new jobs and attract visitors from all around Europe.

Jones will revisit Slovenia in September, when the mayors would be acquainted with the concept of the planned resort, while the location would not be known by then. At the moment six locations are being considered, said HIT chairman Niko Trost, who added that feasibility would be checked in dialogue with the mayors.

The uncertainty about the location is one of the things that the mayors are concerned about. „Property prices have gone up substantially throughout the region for this reason. If the location was known, the problem would only arise there,“ Valencic said, adding that the mayors were assured that all issues regarding infrastructure and other required investments would be resolved in cooperation with the community.

The bulk of funds are to come from the investment, and part from licence fees. The mayors expect these to multiply comparatively to turn-out at the resort, but the debate on the issue will continue, Valencic said.

Introducing the project, Hit chairman said that gaming would represent only up to one fifth of the value, which means 2,000 gaming machines and 100 tables per 1,000 rooms in the first phase. While 40% will be represented through own capital, the rest will be funded by long-term loans and other financial instruments.

„Each partner will invest about EUR 160 mln. We do not think capital injection will be required if Hit operates successfully, which we do not doubt,“ Trost said.

The mayors meanwhile underscored that they did not have the necessary data to judge competently about the project, while they were also critical of planned changes to gaming legislation, because they fear they could disadvantage Hit.

Such grievances were also voiced by Hit, whose officials are to talk them through at the Finance Ministry in mid-August, Trost said.