Edmund Barlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, has revealed that the country’s first legal casino should start operating by the beginning of 2020 but made it clear that Jamaica will not be turned into a casino destination.
The disclosure was made by Minister Barlett at the time when he took part of a seminar on Hospitality Industry and Casino Operator’s Guide to Managing US Liability Issues from the Caribbean, which took place on December 7th at Sandals Montego Bay. The Minister of Tourism did not provide many details about the first legal casino in Jamaica but spoke of the contributions which casino gaming is expected to bring to the local economy as a supplement of the tourism product. As Mr. Barlett explained the addition of the first casino is expected to account for a 2% GDP growth.
As explained by the Minister of Tourism, the country has stayed away from gambling for a long time due to a number of reasons. He also explained that it was very important for the authorities to make sure they will be able to deal with the possible negative impact of casino gambling. He further noted that there has been a strong religious consideration of the matter, but the Government has still decided to take a step deeper in the area because it would complement the local tourism sector.
MR. Bartlett explained that casinos should represent as much as 20% of the overall value of the experience offered as the integrated development arrangement.
US Expert Urges Jamaica to Embrace Casino Gambling and Sports Betting
According to the information provided by the Tourism Minister, attracting 3 million stopover visitors and generating about $3 billion had been a milestone spurred on by casino gambling, but that number of visitors has already been surpassed in 2017 when 4.3 million visited the country.
Minister Barlett further explained that establishing a casino in Jamaica was not an obligatory element for the country’s further growth but casino gambling could be a driver for a more rapid growth.
The above-mentioned seminar saw a US expert from the Kaufman Dolowich Voluck law firm urge the local Government to integrate casino gaming to its tourism sector as quickly as possible. Bruce Liebman, who is a managing partner in the US law firm, said that Jamaica should position itself in a way that would make it able to take advantage of the recent passage of Amendment 3 in Florida, under which casino gambling growth is limited and the construction of large gambling venues offering the game of blackjack is prevented.
According to Mr. Liebman, Jamaica now has a great opportunity to get ahead of the state of Florida and add an opportunity that could end up with a sector growth. Apart from that, he encouraged Jamaica to embrace sports betting, explaining that it is a multibillion-dollar industry.