Steve can be contacted at [email protected]  http://www.scarabcasinomanagement.com

After many years of little change since gaming was legalized there have been quite a few changes in the Bahamas. Atlantis continues to grow but in the rest of Paradise things are changing much quicker.

We are studying what impact the new visa regulations concerning USA citizens are having on gaming in the Bahamas. From the beginning of this year USA citizens are no longer able to travel on birth certificates and drivers licenses. It seems this has affected visitors but no where near what was feared, for the first quarter of 2007, the decline in the total visitor arrivals by 0.9 percent includes a 5 percent drop in the air component.

The Bahamas is only a 30 minute flight away from America and has many Islands. Casinos have now spread finally to what is known as the “family islands” with the opening last year of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc’s, “The Casino at Emerald Bay” at the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma. Ministers have recently reported that more casinos may open in the family islands, although a casino projects at Club Med in Andros never came to fruition and no one knows if the “Moon” casino resort will ever happen. After talk of a casino in Bimini for many years it has been announced there will be a casino at Bimini Bay Resort.

The main casino developments are on the second island of Freeport where it had been questioned if any casinos would remain open after the double whammy of the Royal Oasis closure and the announcement that the newly opened Isle of Capri casino at Our Lucaya would close. Both of these operations were severely affected by hurricanes in the last 2 years. Recent news is that a new owner has been found for the Royal Oasis which needs a great amount of rebuilding. Minister of Tourism Niko Grant recently mentioned the new owners when he stated “We are working swiftly and closely with the Harcourt Group to ensure that the redevelopment of what was known as the Royal Oasis takes place within the fastest timeframe so as to cause for new direct employment in the construction stages alone by the end of this year and in the tourism services area by winter 2008.” It had been announced on last year that the purchase was likely to have been by a Florida based company World Investments Holdings (WIH) who signed certain agreements with owners Lehman Brothers. Isle of Capri had announced it was pulling out on June 1st this year but made an announcement in April that it had reached an agreement with the government on a better deal and would now be staying on.

Freeport is also looking forward to Ginn Resorts Versailles sur Mer project. It looks like it may make a big impact on the Bahamas gaming scene when it opens – see details by clicking on the website link below. Club Fortuna has also asked the government for a license to operate a boutique casino at its 267 room resort.

On the main island of New Providence the Crystal Palace casino has been in the hand of new owners, Bahamar Development, (see related links). Having visited and spoke with the management last year we were quite impressed by the vision they had and a year later it seems they are on course to maybe one day rival the Atlantis. On the less well known side of the island it looks as if a casino will finally come to the South Ocean Beach, a 500 room hotel is being built that has plans to include a casino.

It was announced on August 18th last year that The Cala Corporation dba UnderSea Resort and Casino, www.UnderSeaResort.com is in discussions with a major gambling operator to build an underwater resort including 100,000 square foot casino between Florida and the Bahamas.

A big development that may affect casinos in the Bahamas and Bahamian citizens was an announcement on July 25th that lawmakers in the Turks and Caicos have approved a measure that would allow the wealthiest islanders to gamble in local casinos, which in the past have catered only to foreigners. For forty years Bahamians have been prevented from playing in casinos in their own country and the latest new from Turks and Caicos has re-ignited the fierce debate about allowing citizens to be allowed to play. WGA will keep all our subscribers up to date with all developments in future editions.

So now there are still only 4 casinos open but things are about to change soon.

Related Links:

NASSAU

http://www.cablebeachresorts.com and http://www.bahamardevelopment.com/

The above consists of 3 International branded resorts and Crystal Palace Casino.

Caesars International are planning to build a 1000 room luxury Hotel Casino. Now present are Radisson, Wyndham and Nassau Beach Hotel. There are plans for 2 700 room hotels from Sheraton and Wyndham.

PARADISE ISLAND

Atlantis

http://www.atlantis.com and http://www.kerzner.com

FREEPORT

Isle of Capri casino at Our Lucaya

http://caribbean.destinations.starwoodhotels.com and http://www.isleofcapricasino.com/Lucaya/ly_hotel.php

Ginn Versailles sur Mer

http://www.versaillessurmer.com

http://www.ginnclubsandresorts.com

Moon World Resort

http://www.moonworldresorts.com

Club Fortuna

http://www.clubfortuna.com

EXUMAS

Four Seasons Emerald Bay Resort

http://www.fourseasons.com/greatexuma and http://www.pnkinc.com