MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica December 13, 2018 — Jamaica’s 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 was speaking at a seminar on ‘Hospitality Industry and Casino Operator’s Guide to Managing US Liability Issues from the Caribbean’, held at Sandals Resort in Montego Bay, last week Friday (December 7).
Bartlett said that Jamaica has shied away from gaming, as a structured path of the tourism experience, for a number of 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,” he 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 percent of GDP to the economy.
He added, the initial thought was that three million stopover visitors and earnings of US$3 billion would be spurred on by casino gaming. However, those figures have already been exceeded, as 4.3 million visitors arrived on the island, last year, without the lure of a casino.
“Casinos should represent no more than 20 percent of the value of the experience that is offered as the integrated development arrangement,” he 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, who is a partner at Kaufman Dolovic and Voluck, 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.
The seminar was 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 on how to deal with hotel and casino legal liability matters.