The troubled Baha Mar Casino Resort in the Bahamas has been surrounded in controversy and has experienced a number of setbacks including a change of ownership brought about due to financial difficulties. The original developer Sarkis Izmirlian is no longer associated with the casino resort as the courts and government in the Bahamas has given new buyer Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) the opportunity to acquire the casino and complete the final phase of construction.

Earlier this week, a high level delegation from the Bahamas government flew to Hong Kong to meet with CTFE and have a look at its casino operations in Asia. The delegation consisted of four officials from the Gaming Board, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson; Sir Baltron Bethel who is a senior advisor to the prime minister and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.

In a statement, Wilchcombe said “We’re going to take a look at the model of their operation and how it fits in ours. This is the largest single floor casino in the Caribbean so you have to be sure of what they intend to do, what games they intend to place on the floor, where the emphasis will be, which markets they will be catering to, whether low scale, upscale, how they are going to phase development.”

Perry Christie, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas has faced a lot of pressure and criticism by opposition parties who believe his government has contributed to the delay of the $3.5 billion casino resort which is expected to create thousands of jobs for the local population and also provide a much needed boost to the island’s economy. Christie has now confirmed that the Baha Mar Casino resort will have a phased opening with the first phase scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2017.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to open in April 2017 and 700 out of the 1800 hotel rooms will be opened to the public. Christie confirmed at a recent Bahamas Hotel Association event that CTFE will invest close to $200 million to complete the final phase of construction and for the pre-opening celebrations of the casino resort. The Prime Minister also stated that CTFE is expected to hire 1,500 employees at the start of the new year and will ramp up its hiring during the course of the new year which will result in nearly 4,300 employees by the end of 2017.

There have been allegations made against Prime Minister Perry Christie and his government that he had fast tracked a number of approvals in order to get the Baha Mar casino resort opened before the next general elections. Those allegations were refuted by Wilchcombe who stated that the government was pleased with the progress of the Baha Mar casino resort which needs another 3 percent to be completed before it can be opened to the public.