Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has stated that the island plans to have its first casino resort open by 2020, but the country does not necessarily need gaming in place to further drive tourism, reports The Gleaner.
Speaking at a seminar held at Sandals Montego Bay, the proclamation comes as two previously approved projects, Celebration Jamaica Development’s Montego Bay project and Harmony Cove’s Trelawny proposition, have failed to get off the ground, despite being granted approval three years ago.
Laying groundwork for a casino market since 2010, with legislation passed the very same year, Bartlett insists casino gaming would add just two per cent to GDP, whilst despite considering proceeding with three licence approvals, resort revenue should not exceed one fifth of its overall makeup.
“The casino must come with shopping, entertainment, with music and with maritime experiences and a whole range of other experiences, because we wanted to make sure that the balance remained, so that there wouldn’t be stand-alone casino arrangement all over Jamaica,” stressed Bartlett.
Pointing to a tourism industry that brought in in excess of 4.3 million stopover arrivals last year alone, Bartlett was also eager to emphasise that the country would definitely not become a gaming destination: “The fact is that casino for Jamaica is not a requirement for our growth, but within the context of the integrated development model, casino gaming is a driver for exponential growth, so we do not see Jamaica ever becoming a casino destination, but rather a destination in which casino gaming is available.”
Furthermore, Bartlett also went on to explain certain Government reservations regarding why Jamaica has been tentative in proceeding down this avenue thus far: “We have shied away from gaming as a structured path of the tourism experience for a long time 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.”