In Argentina, the governor for Buenos Aires Province, Maria Eugenia Vidal, has inaugurated the tendering process for the license to operate slots within the state’s eight casinos with established firms such as Codere, Inverclub and Boldt reportedly interested.

According to G3 Newswire citing a report from the local Clarin newspaper, the casino slots market in Buenos Aires Province is currently worth approximately $36.24 million a year with current license holder Boldt operating some 2,600 machines for the state’s over 15.6 million inhabitants.

G3 Newswire reported that Boldt, whose current casino slot-operating license for the nation’s largest and most populous province is due to expire in March, is responsible for five gaming properties in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Mar Del Plata and Miramar while Inverclub runs venues in Buenos Aires, Rosario and Neuquen. Meanwhile, Codere is the market leader in Buenos Aires Province with its 14 bingo halls employing over 4,000 people and featuring a total of 6,500 slots.

Under Vidal’s plan, potential operators will need to pay just short of $20,000 in order to receive the full terms and conditions of the new licensing process although it has been widely reported that the government is asking for a minimum overall investment worth around $100 million. The winning bid is set to receive an exclusive 15-year license for the operation of slots within casinos in locations such as the popular seaside resort city of Mar Del Plata while this permit will have the ability to be extended by a further five years.

Following allegations that predecessor Daniel Scioli laundered money for his unsuccessful 2015 presidential campaign via the state’s bingo halls and lotteries, Vidal is reportedly also looking at ways to monitor slots online although the tender for this business is to be launched separately.

Clarin reportedly revealed that local industry experts have disparaged the $100 million price tag as prohibitive for all but the largest operators while Meliton Eugenio Lopez, Director for the Buenos Aires Province Lottery And Casinos Institute regulator, is due to give his findings on the process to government officials in the coming weeks.

The once stellar Argentine gambling industry has struggled as the peso has fallen against the euro, however, according to data from the IMF the country’s GDP is expected to rise steadily over the next four years (length of forecast) from an anticipated $542 billion in 2016 to a healthy $773b in 2020. Closer to the ground we see brightening signs such as a late October report that German gaming giant Merkur Gaming has established an Argentina subsidiary and is looking for suitable premises for the division. Another sign that can’t be ignored is the continued and strengthening participation of global industry giants like  such as IGT, Scientific Games, Ainsworth, Aristocrat and Latin American giant Boldt in the South American Gaming Suppliers Expo for Latin America (SAGSE LATAM) which celebrates it’s 24th edition in Buenos Aires beginning next Tuesday.