Casino Gambling Soon To Be Legalized In Jamaica

Published on: April 21, 2008 

The Caribbean is about to step into the gambling community as the government has finally given international investors approval to establish the first legal casinos on the island.  The final decision complete with details hammered out by the government is supposed to be announced during the Budget Debate on Tuesday.  Montego Bay, St. James, will have the first casino and it will be established at a new hotel in the city that will offer thousands of Jamaicans employment.

The planned hotel is expected to have somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 rooms, but it will not be constructed unless a casino is attached.  The construction will be a multi-billion dollar effort by an American development company who has a good track record with casinos and hotels all over the world.  The company involved has asked to remain anonymous until the deal goes completely through.   

The casino and hotel is a major part of an economic growth effort the government is trying to introduce to the island nation in an effort to spur some economic growth.  While there were efforts to get the government to discuss the deal, representative refused any details about the plan.  They prefer to leave the details to the address that is scheduled on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Edmund Bartlett has made it clear that he is in support of the casino measure even though some people feel that it is hypocritical because of the campaign that has been going on against casino gambling.  He has stated that the groups lobbying against the casinos have made no statements regarding betting, gaming and lotteries.  He has stated that his party intends to honour the previous government’s commitments to give Jamaica their first licensed casino.

The country has previously authorised other gaming machines, such as slots, throughout the country and there have been slot lounges opened up all over the island nation.  But the government has not gone forward with full blown casinos because of the ensuing controversy.  Based on a study in 2003 the previous government commissioned, legalized casinos would be an economic boon for the country’s economy.  Based on that study the government committed to the casino concept which included not only table games, but also sports book betting and slot machines.

The commitment included a rider over 1,000 machines per location could be increased if the hotel attached to the casino had more than 1,000 rooms.  Whether or not this will be included remains to be seen.

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