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Casino investors move chips from White & Case to Quinn as they sue Mexico for $100m

A group of US investors have instructed disputes powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to bring a $100m arbitration claim against Mexico after the government seized and closed all their casinos in 2014.

B-Mex and nine investors have filed a $100m claim against Mexico at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) after their six casinos across the country were seized and closed two years ago.

The group of investors, which includes former investment banker Gordon Burr, founded B-Mex (also known as Exciting Games) in 2005 and rapidly built up a portfolio of casinos in Mexico. A showcase casino in Naucalpan launched in 2006 with 830 slot machines, a restaurant and music venue, and more sites followed.

The US investors claim Mexico ignored court orders preventing the state from ‘from impeding or otherwise hindering operation’ and invalidated a 25-year casino permit through arbitrary, non-transparent administrative actions by the gaming authority and arbitrary, non-transparent judicial proceedings. The group argue that Mexico’s gaming authority has allowed other Mexican casino companies in like circumstances to continue operating their casinos, while the Mexican government implemented retaliatory and discriminatory measures aimed at harassing and extracting profits.

The investors had originally instructed White & Case to handle the dispute, but ahead of bringing the claim at ICSID switched to Quinn Emanuel. David Orta, who heads Quinn Emanuel’s international arbitration practice in Washington, DC and Latin America, has been instructed by the US investors alongside Daniel Salinas.

Mexico has not yet appointed outside counsel.