Andorra Getting its First Casino, Doors Opening This Week

Posted on: March 3, 2023, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: March 6, 2023, 02:39h.

Nestled between Spain and France, the tiny microstate of Andorra seems almost imperceptible on a map. But gambling might help put it on the map. The landlocked territory of 80K people is getting its first casino.

A worker unveils gaming machines at a new casino in Andorra
A worker unveils gaming machines at a new casino in Andorra. The casino will open its doors on Saturday, March 4. (Image: Nacional Digital)

Considered the first large casino in Andorra, the property is ready to open this Saturday after a lengthy regulatory and awarding process to Jocs SA. The gaming company has repeatedly butted heads with Andorra’s gaming regulator to win the concession.

Unnic invested more than €25 million (US$26.54 million) in the new casino area, measuring 7,500 square meters (80,729 square feet) and 155 gaming positions. Once the equipment has been put into operation, it will be possible for the Andorran population to acquire a part of the company’s shares, up to 10%.

The casino will be part of the new Unnic leisure complex, with several entertainment areas, dining and business spaces, and gambling areas. About 200 people work in these facilities, generating around 500 jobs indirectly.

Officials expect around 189K visitors during the first year of operation. The country will also receive about 8.6 million tourists yearly, according to government reports.

While bingo parlors can already be found in Andorra, this is the first time the microstate will offer roulette, poker, and blackjack tables. Up until 2018, bingo was the only authorized form of gambling. Casino gaming was also approved in 2018, but a casino was not constructed until Unnic’s current project.

Casino Controversy

Several international gaming companies, including Genting, Cirsa, and Partouche, competed against locally-owned Jocs for the concession. Each presented ambitious and spectacular offers, but Jocs won out because, according to its proposal, it was married to Austrian gaming supplier Novomatic.

When Andorra TV covered the pending launch in a broadcast, something else appeared that could cause trouble for Jocs. Instead of Novomatic slots, there were Zitro slots.

Spain-based Zitro is a company with close ties to casino operator Orenes Group, also based in Spain. Orenes, in turn, has ties to the new casino in Andorra. The architect behind one of its Spanish casinos designed the new facility. In addition, the croupiers for the Unnic gaming property received their education at an Orenes casino.

Jocs had difficulty convincing Andorra’s gaming regulator that it was worthy of the concession. The company fought the regulator from 2017 to 2020, and the two landed in court to settle their differences.

According to reports at the time, part of the reason it won was because of its ties to Novomatic. If it’s exclusively working with Zitro and not Novomatic, the other gaming companies that bid for the concession could sue to block Jocs over false representation. So far, none of those operators has issued a public statement.