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Casino competition

Bahamas casinos could face another challenge coming out of the recession, the new Bahamas Hotel Association chief is acknowledging, as Jamaican government officials project$120 million per quarter will be generated by three proposed casinos coming to market as early as 2012.

The association’s President Stuart Bowe said The Bahamas has been noting a decline in the gaming aspect of its tourism business for several years, due largely to the fact that casino gambling is increasingly being offered by many other jurisdictions.

“Jamaica has been positioning itself to add casino gambling as a visitor offering for some time, and in fact has looked at gaming laws in The Bahamas and various other areas in helping to shape their own laws and regulations,”he said in a statement sent yesterday toGuardian Business.”Yes, without further changes to our casino-related laws and regulations, we will feel the impact of this added competition.

“In order to stop the decline and in fact make us more competitive, both the BHA and the Ministry of Tourism have reviewed our gaming laws and regulations, and a number of our recommendations will be given serious consideration shortly. It is imperative that we continue to find ways to maintain an edge.”

Construction is slated to begin by the end of this year on the first of these casinos in Jamaica. The opening of the casinos is expected to boost that country’s tourism product offerings and at the same time improve earnings for the neighboring nation.

“Jamaica will soon become a destination that offers a casino gambling experience, rather than a casino destination,”Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said in a recent statement sent toGuardian Business.”Legislation for casino operations is completed, the regulations are now being done, and members of the commission which was recently established have already started their work. Applications for licences to operate casinos are now being accepted.

“Casino gaming has a reputation to attract very high-end visitors and we are hoping to earn in the region of US$120 million from the three operations on a quarterly basis. In addition, the casino operations will provide employment for a significant number of Jamaicans.”

The move comes ascasinos in The Bahamas report revenue declines in 2010 as steep as 18 percent in at least one case,Guardian Businesshas learned.Of the three casinos in The Bahamas, Crystal Palace saw the highest revenue drop, down by 18.5 percent or$5 million from$27 million to$22 million, while Atlantis offered only that its”revenue was down a little under 2009″by 8 percent. Officials at Treasure Bay in Grand Bahama said it was still too early for them to give a year-on-year comparison, given they only gained control of the operation in late 2009.

However, like other casinos globally, revenue intake seems to have been affected not from the high rollers at all, but those visitors likely whiling away time in the casino.

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