For the first time in the island’s history, the Jamaican finance ministry began accepting proposals for casinos on June 1 to help boost tourism. Investors will have until September 30 to submit plans and a 0,000 application fee for one of three gaming licenses to be granted. Each proposed development must have at least 2,000 rooms and applicants must clearly show funding commitments. In return, the Jamaican government will offer “exclusivity”—or a competition-free buffer zone—to winning bidders. A four-month review period will follow, with winning bids announced in early 2014.
The Jamaican legislature passed the Casino Gaming Act last year allowing developers to build casinos offering traditional table games and slot machines. The act established a casino tax rate of 10 percent on gross profits. Currently, the island offers a few gaming facilities in Kingston and popular tourist areas. The casinos would be part of an Integrated Resort Development program that would help grow the hotel sector with casinos, entertainment, banquet facilities and more.
Among those expected to bid are the Palladium resort group and state-owned Harmonisation Limited and its partner in the Harmony Cove resort to be developed in Trelawny. Rose Hall Developments Limited also is expected to submit an application.
Finance Minister Peter Phillips said the project will lead to expanded and enhanced tourism that will help create jobs for Jamaicans and lead to new investment in the tourism sector. The finance ministry has assembled a technical team including an architect, civil engineer, structural engineer, sociologists, legal adviser, financial analyst, environmentalist, landscape architect, land surveyor, geologist and archaeologist to review the proposals.