Argentina’s Abandoned Casino Ship Planned for Renovation

casino ship argentina image
Abandoned Casino Ship. Image Credit: Shutterstock

A casino ship that has been sitting abandoned on the banks of the Iguazu River since 2013 is expected to receive a breath of life with a general overhaul.

The Iguazu River, which straddles the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, has had a permanent feature in the form of an abandoned casino ship floating on it since 2013.  

Now, a local Argentinian firm, Comercial de Turismo (CTC), is planning to restore the multi-story ship that’s been rotting away for eight years.

The vessel is currently on the Argentinian side of the Iguazu, resting in the area known as the Triple Frontier, which forms the triple border junction between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. The Parana and the Iguazu rivers converge at the intersection. 

CTC recently gained ownership of the abandoned ship.  The company, which specialises in hospitality and hotel development and is headquartered in Buenos Aires, has indicated it is willing to spend as much as US$60 million to restore the casino to its former glory.  

According to Magno Alvarez, the attorney representing CTC in this transaction, the boat represents an unusual attraction in the Triple Frontier area, offering a world-class establishment to a discerning local and international clientele.

Government Firmly Behind the Project

Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay declared the Triple Frontier region a tourism development zone in 2015. The aim is to make the area a vacation destination for tourists from all three countries. 

The Triple Frontier is less than five miles from Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu. Located in Brazil’s Parana state, the city is home to the famous Iguazu Falls. With a total of 275 waterfalls, including the longest one spanning nearly 270 feet, the falls boast of being some of the largest in the world.  By promoting gambling on the river, the area would become even more attractive to potential tourists and visitors. 

The ship in question was built in 1962 and is 60 feet wide and 300 feet long. The original plan for the eight-floor vessel included 52 cabins, several saunas and jacuzzies, three swimming pools, a fitness studio and a solarium. The boat had four gaming rooms with slot machines and table games.

Officials from Paraguay and Argentina have said they will back CTC in pushing the casino initiative forward.  CTC says that, along with construction workers, the casino boat will generate around 200 permanent jobs in the Triple Frontier area.

Area Gambling Laws

Commercial gambling is widespread in both Argentina and Paraguay, although the situation is somewhat different in Brazil.  Nearly all types of gambling have been banned in South America’s largest country since 1946. The exceptions are the state-run lottery and sports betting. Brazil legalised sports bets in 2018, although the first legal bet has yet to be wagered. According to officials, they are still finalising the specifics that will govern the expanded gambling offering. 

Waldir Eustáquio Marques, an undersecretary at Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, recently said that he expects sports betting to be rolled out at brick-and-mortar shops and online in 2022. Brazil has long been viewed as one of the last remaining untapped commercial gambling markets globally. Federal lawmakers continue to argue whether to legalise casinos in the country, although there is no active momentum towards this move at the moment.

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