After years of construction delays, ownership disputes, and a bankruptcy filing, the beleaguered Baha Mar Casino and Hotel in the Bahamas has reportedly been granted an official gaming license and now intends to fully open for business from April 21.
According to a report from G3Newswire, the giant $3.5 billion New Providence Island development received the license from the office of tourism minister Obie Wilchcombe late last week after undergoing a thorough review conducted by the Gaming Board for The Bahamas.
“As required by the Act, a comprehensive probity investigation was conducted into the application,” read a statement from Wilchcombe. “Through this investigation, which was based on all the eligibility criteria for licensing contained in the Act, the applicant and all persons, whether natural or juristic, holding a direct or indirect financial interest of 5% or more in it were thoroughly examined against these criteria.”
Initially, a project of BMD Holdings with funding from China Export-Import Bank, the Baha Mar Casino And Hotel was originally scheduled to open for business in 2014 but ran into delays and difficulties that ultimately led to it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in a Delaware court in 2015. The developer, which was headed by real estate billionaire Sarkis Izmirlian, subsequently blamed these problems on China State Construction Engineering Corporation and its China Construction America Bahamas subsidiary before submitting an unsuccessful offer designed to resurrect the development.
In a move that it hoped would protect the economy of the Bahamas, the government ultimately liquidated the entire project in October before inking a purchase agreement two months later with new owner Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, which has a presence in global real estate, hospitality, transportation, and casino businesses. The Hong Kong-based conglomerate subsequently completed the acquisition last month before being granted a temporary certificate of occupancy for the hotel portion of the development.
Set to offer a collection of 1,500 slots as well as some 150 gaming tables in a 96,875 sq ft casino due to be operated by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited subsidiary Sky Warrior Bahamas Limited, the 1,800-room Baha Mar Casino And Hotel last month ran afoul of rules governing what types of gambling machines could be imported into the Caribbean nation. But, the granting of the license reportedly means that it is now free to bring in and operate the full $20 million complement of machines.
“The Gaming Board [For The Bahamas], having considered the application and the report submitted to it in respect of the probity investigation, recommended the approval of the application for a gaming licence and the various related certificates of suitability,” read the statement from Wilchcombe. “Having thoroughly reviewed these recommendations as well as the investigation report and all other documentation pertaining to the application, I have reached the conclusion that the application, the applicant and its material stakeholders have all met the qualification requirements for licensing set forth in the Act and therefore have resolved to grant a gaming licence subject to appropriate conditions to Sky Warrior Bahamas Limited and certificates of suitability to its material shareholders.”
Wilchcombe moreover reportedly explained that the Gaming Board For The Bahamas would continue to work with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited and Sky Warrior Bahamas Limited in order to ensure that they met “the prevailing pre-opening requirements leading up to the soft opening” of the Baha Mar Casino and Hotel on April 21.