Jamaica took another step towards establishing a gaming industry last month when the Senate approved a bill that outlines the country’s gaming regulations. A law went into effect last year that allowed casino gaming to be introduced to keep pace with neighboring islands that use casinos to attract tourists.
The Casino Gaming (Prescribed Games) Regulations 2012 and the Casino Gaming (Application for Declaration of Approved Integrated Resort Development) Regulations were passed unanimously, although some senators disagreed with some aspects of the bills.
Evelyn Smith, the president of the Jamaican Hotel and Tourist Association, says her members are awaiting a full reading of the bill to determine how they will proceed.
Former tourism minister Francis Tulloch, now a deacon in the Catholic Church, applauded the Senate action.
“As we speak, there are five hotels on the Hip Strip that have closed, and if this trend continues, the Hip Strip will lose its appeal,” he told the Gleaner. “We have proper beaches and very good adventure tours. The only thing that is lacking is casino gaming.”
Other religious leaders were not so sanguine about casino gaming. Senator K.D. Knight has consistently argued against the measure. “I, quite frankly, don’t see how we can be so agog about building an economy based on gambling,” he said in the Senate during hearings.
Davon Crump, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said gaming would be the savior of many of the businesses represented by his group.