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Equus New Investment In Uruguay And USVI


November 23, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Equus Gaming Company, L.P., the Puerto Rico-based company with horse racing and entertainment interest in Latin America and the Caribbean, announced that the Governments of Uruguay and U.S. Virgin Island (USVI) have awarded it the exclusive rights to operate racetrack and off track betting agency systems in both jurisdictions.

Equus Gaming has a 99% interest in Housing Development Associates S.E., the owner of El Comandante Race Track in Canovanas, the only licensed racing facility in the island.

"We are currently negotiating a contract with the Uruguay government, which we expect to finalize by the end of this year or early next year," Hernan Welch, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Equus Gaming Co L.P., told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

With this move, Welch indicated, "Equus Gaming would become the only company of its kind operating in Uruguay."

"Definitely, we want to expand racetrack operations in Uruguay, the proximity to the two largest economies of the region, that is Argentina and Brazil, would make the Uruguay operations a very attractive marketplace for the company," Welch explained.

The company expects to get permission to run live races at least 3 days per week during the first three years, so as to reach 5 days of live racing a week during the fourth year of the contract. "The live races will be complemented by simulcast of races from other jurisdictions, including United States and Puerto Rico," Welch indicated.

The estimated capital investment to renovate the racetrack and develop the agency betting system in Uruguay is expected to be $12 million. The company expects also to bring in investors and form strategic alliances with a slot machine company to cover this capital investment. Welch pointed out, "that there is no firm commitment by the company in undertaking this venture until a definitive agreement is reached with the government of Uruguay."

Meanwhile, Equus Gaming was also awarded the rights to operate the racetrack in St. Thomas and the off-track betting agency system in St. Thomas and St. John. The company is currently negotiating a contract with the Racing Board for the exclusive rights to simulcast unlimited live races form the U.S. to the USVI.

"We expect to finalize the contract prior to December 31, 2000," said Welch. "The total investment in the USVI is expected to be approximately a half-million dollars."

Equus Gamming is a publicly held company that trades in the National Association of Dealers in Securities Automated Quotation (Nasdaq) under the EQUUS symbol. The company stock price closed at $1.12 last Monday. Its highest value in the last 52-weeks was $1.62 and its lowest value was $0.88.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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