Brazil’s pesky Winfil casino may have been shut down for good following its latest attempt to offer real-money slots play in defiance of local laws.
On March 29, authorities in the city of Porto Alegre in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul ordered the closure of Winfil, a nightspot operated by Catalan-based gaming operator Grupo Pefaco. Once again, the venue was accused of offering real-money slots play over the strident objections of local authorities.
Winfil launched last October, offering hundreds of slot machines configured to operate in free-play ‘demonstration’ mode only. Before the month was through, police raided the property after getting word that Winfil’s slots were now allowing real-money play. Several hundred of the offending machines were duly confiscated, along with the cash they contained.
Winfil’s attorneys claimed to have received authorization from a local court to make the switch to real-money play, but even the judge who handled the case rejected Winfil’s interpretation of her ruling, saying she’d only suggested that the cops had no authority to confiscate the free-play machines.
A defiant Winfil reopened one week after the initial raid, only to be raided again in December, resulting in another hundred or so machines being carted away. Undaunted, Winfil resumed real-money slots action in late January, which the authorities finally (famous last words) put a stop to last week.
The difference this time is that, in addition to losing more of its gaming machines to the cops, the Municipal Bureau of Economic Development (SDME) has ordered the Winfil property to be closed. The SDME claims Winfil violated the terms of the license it agreed to last year, and this license has now been revoked.
Winfil attorney Laerte Luis Gschwenter issued a statement saying the company has been “subject to persecution by the authorities” and that he had already filed an administrative appeal of the license revocation. Gschwenter maintains that the venue paid all its taxes and its “electronic games” are all operating within the law.
Casinos are currently illegal not just in Porto Alegre but across Brazil. For years now, national legislators have been attempting to legalize the development of major integrated resort casinos, along with online gambling and other gambling products, but seem incapable of pushing that puppy over the finish line.