Jamaica Not Interested in Becoming a Casino Destination

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday December 13, 2018 – Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says that while Jamaica will open its first regulated casino in 2020, the island is not slated to become a casino destination.

“The fact is that casinos are not a requirement for Jamaica’s growth, but within the context of the integrated development model, casino gaming is a driver for exponential growth. We do not see Jamaica ever becoming known as a casino destination, but rather a destination in which casino gaming is available,” he said.

He added that Jamaica has shied away from gaming as a structured path of the tourism experience for several reasons.

“One of which has been the experiences that we have looked at in other places and we have seen some of the attendant negatives, and we question very much whether or not we would be able, ourselves, to manage and be able to deal with the negative impact of it,” Bartlett pointed out.

He noted that while there were also religious considerations, a decision was made to explore the area, “because it does provide a lucrative element of the tourism product and it has the potential to drive growth to a level that would put Jamaica where it ought to be in terms of the level required to generate additional gross domestic product (GDP).”

Minister Bartlett said that as a tourism product, casino gaming is expected to contribute two per cent of GDP to the economy.

Statistics show that 4.3 million visitors went to Jamaica last year, even without the lure of a casino.

“Casinos should represent no more than 20 per cent of the value of the experience that is offered as the integrated development arrangement,” Bartlett said.

With the consideration that three casino gaming licences will be granted, the Minister outlined that construction of at least 1,000 rooms and US$1 billion in investment have been laid down as minimum for a casino licence.

Florida attorney-at-law Bruce Liebman said that casinos present “great opportunity” for the island if presented in an integrated format, which includes entertainment, condominiums, and shopping, along with golf courses.

“Get [casinos] on the ocean with your beautiful beaches and you will be ahead of Florida [in terms of casino profitability], and I believe that is a beautiful opportunity,” he said.

Minister Bartlett and Liebman were speaking at a seminar on ‘Hospitality Industry and Casino Operator’s Guide to Managing US Liability Issues from the Caribbean’, hosted by Kaufman Dolovic and Voluck in collaboration with the Montego Bay-based law offices of Clayton Morgan and Company. Liebman and associate attorney, Michel Morgan, made presentations at the seminar on how to deal with hotel and casino legal liability matters.

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