The Genting Group, one of the largest casino developers in the world, has begun construction on a luxury casino hotel on the Bahamian island of Bimini, 48 miles from South Florida by plane or boat.
The project is a joint venture of Genting and Bimini Bay Resort and Marina. The $20 million, 10,000-square-foot casino, Resorts World Bimini Bay, is scheduled to open in December in the sleepy little resort community that is currently known for its fishing and for its former association with Ernest Hemingway. It will feature table games, slot machines and sports betting, and will be similar to the type of casino the developer operates in London. The resort owners plan to operate a high-speed ferry that will bring Floridians to the casino in 90 minutes.
Unlike most casinos, this one will have windows that will look out onto the natural beauty of the resort.
This will be the second project Genting has done in the Bahamas. In 1986 it built the Lucayan Beach Resort and Casino in Freeport. Bahamas Prime Minister Perry G. Christie commented, “This is an important venture not only for RAV Bahamas and Genting Malaysia but also for the island of Bimini. It provides further stability for the local economy in a destination that already enjoys a 79 percent repeat visitor return.” RAV Bahamas had been wooing Genting since 2000, when the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina was in the planning stages.
Genting has very publicly been pursuing an opportunity to build a casino in South Florida. It has spent $500 million buying property in Miami, including the former Omni Mall and land owned by the Miami Herald. Genting and other gaming interests have been lobbying the legislature to expand gaming beyond tribal casinos and racetracks, which currently have a monopoly on gaming in the Sunshine State. A spokesman for the company said that its casino in Bimini has no relation to that.
“Our shared vision to offer gaming entertainment, luxury amenities and world-class service will continue to attract many new visitors to the Bahamas’ gateway destination just minutes away from South Florida, and other major U.S. cities by air and sea,” said Dana Leibovitz, president of Resorts World Bimini Bay, according to the Miami Herald.
Obie Wilchcombe, the Bahamas minister of tourism, estimated that the new casino will boost Bimini’s economy by 25 percent the first year and more thereafter. “The Bimini economy is now producing around $49 million in output for the year. We are thinking, in the first year, that should rise to at least $75 million, and that’s for the short term. I anticipate it will grow tremendously beyond that,” he said, according to Guardian Business. The minister added, “Whether it be in Singapore, London or New York, Genting Group is absolutely setting a new trend in the world. It is going to help the brand of The Bahamas.” It will also create about 300 new jobs on the island.