Islands of the Bahamas:
Many Bahamians will remind you that their islands are not in the Caribbean but the Atlantic, which although true we will include them in our summary of island gaming.
This year the Bahamas should see more new casino activity than in many years. Since the inception of Gambling in the Bahamas the only legal gaming was on the islands of New Providence, Paradise Island, and Freeport. Things could change in 2003 with the opening of the first “out island” casino. Possibilities include the Four Seasons Emerald Resort in the Exumas, the resort will open at the end of this year, a casino was anticipated but no management group has been named yet. In an island only 50 miles from Florida the Bimini Bay Resort may or may not happen although dredging and some construction is moving slowly. Talks are continuing about a casino for the largest island in the Bahamas, Andros. Parcels of land are available for development; it would be wise to contact the Bahamian Government and the Gaming Board for the Bahamas to enquire about the available license.
On the tiny island of San Salvador, Club Med have reopened their operation and should have the first “Out Island” casino. San Salvador is located in the Far Eastern Bahamas. It is also believed to be the place where Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World on October 12, 1492.
Back on the island of New Providence which hosts the Countries Capital Nassau there talk has been rekindled of a casino opening in the South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort. On Paradise Island the regions largest resort, Atlantis, are understood to be ready to bid $30 million to buy the Sheraton Hotel.
Finally the casino will open at the Huchison Whampoa “Our Lucaya” development on the island of Freeport. London Clubs International were to have opened last year but their disastrous foray into the Las Vegas market severely depleted their finances. A stand-alone casino has been constructed at the resort and will open in June. Early this year Starwood Hotels took over the management of the property. Freeport’s other casino continues to have labor problems and a strike may be imminent. Business has not been fantastic at the Royal Oasis Resorts Casino and it is questionable that with the opening of the new casino whether 2 casinos can survive.
On a final note this is likely to be the year that a law is passed allowing Bahamians to gamble in their own countries casinos.
Turks and Caicos
Parties have been negotiating with the Government to operate the islands second casino.
As for many years the situation between the islands two countries in every respect, including gaming, is like black and white. Haiti?s lawlessness has meant only one serious casino, El Rancho Hotel, survives. The Hotel, which overlooks the Capital Port of Prince, is in the picturesque mountainside village of Petionville.
The Dominican Republic occupies the other two thirds of the island, and it is here that by far we see the highest concentration of casinos in the Caribbean. Santo Domingo alone has 11 casinos with two or three more scheduled to open this year.
More casino developments will be seen this year in Dominican than elsewhere in the Caribbean, at least 3 Hotels that had casinos last year are in discussions with new tenants and various projects that had been stalled over the last couple of years are attracting attention. American buyers have been visiting the island quite regularly and there are at least 14 potential projects to invest in.
Santo Domingo?s casinos were pinning their hopes on being allowed to offer 24 hour gaming but it has been made clear to them this will not be happening any time soon. Business in some of the countries casinos is patchy at best but for the brave of heart investor this could be the bottom of the cycle.
Puerto Rico has the second highest number of casinos in the region. Casinos here again number 17, earlier this year the “Courtyard at Marriott” opened a casino but the Palmas Del Mar casino has recently closed.
October 2003 will see the opening of Sol Melia groups “Paradisus Puerto Rico”
Compromised of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire the islands are favorite destinations for American travelers and have a total of 25 casinos. For more information see other story.
Although casino business has been slow here the Princess Group have recently re-opened their Coliseum casino, along with casinos at the Tropical and Princess Port de Plaisance they again have three casinos on the island. A new casino could open this year at Oyster Pond/ Dawn Beach. Again on this island as on many of the others casinos have regularly changed hands in recent years and at least 4 of the casinos are for sale at the right price.
Antigua saw the opening of the Grand Princess casino in April of this year at the Jolly Harbor Resort.
By far the areas most ambitious casino ever it is very impressive but the difficult economic climate in the region has already led to the closing of two of the islands 6 casinos. Casino Riviera is likely to open its doors again very soon.
The small but beautiful island of St. Kitts may see a tripling of the number of casinos this year. December 2002 saw the closure of the Allegro Resort but the Royal St. Kitts casino within the resort stayed open. The Eastern Caribbean?s largest casino with 34 tables and 400 slots opened in February at the Marriott Royal Beach Resort. Later during the year there is a possibility the Paradise Beach Resort and casino will become the nations third casino.
U.S. Virgin islands
Although the Government have entered into negotiations to permit another two casino licenses the Divi Carina Bay in St. Croix remains the countries only casino. When gaming was passed recently it was envisaged that 5 or 6 casinos would be operating at this time.
St. Lucia and St. Vincent/Grenadines
After passing legislation to allow casino gambling, the island of St. Lucia is still awaiting the opening of its first casino. A casino was supposed to open at the Hyatt Resort but never became operational, the Resort has now become a Sandals Resort and the Chairman of Sandals has had recent meetings with Donald Trump about operating a casino on the island. It is understood the two have been discussing building a stand-alone casino to cater to all the surrounding hotels, this is contrary to the law that requires casinos to be in Resorts with a minimum of two hundred rooms. Both the Governments of St Lucia and St. Vincent have a new immigration agreement and the Trump group is rumored to be interested in the development of St. Lucia?s International airport as a regional hub. Trump group will probably manage the casino at the soon to be re-opened Carenage Resort on the Grenadine island of Canouan.
Even though the Government introduced massive tax hikes on casinos, (private clubs), the new and extensive Club De Vegas which rivals most Caribbean casinos opened two months ago. 5 more casino/clubs are ready to open in the next year. Although casinos are technically illegal the Government have stated that should a large investor propose a major resort development they will consider amending the law. Again Donald Trumps name has been mentioned.
Remainder of the Islands
As is happening in the USA, due to the poor economy and budget constraints casino gaming is now being talked about strongly in such jurisdictions as Barbados and Jamaica as well as Grenada.
Casinos still seem unlikely in places such as Cayman Islands and Bermuda, were the Government have actually banned the importation of slot machine spare parts to try to eradicate this form of gambling.
Finally, will the glory days of Havana casinos return?, rumors abound but then they have now for years.