The Condado Plaza Hilton in Puerto Rico is one of the biggest and most popular hotels on the Island and has been operating for the past forty years. The hotel attracts thousands of tourists each year as it is located in Condado, a tourist hub. The Condado Plaza Hilton also had a casino which was once very popular and used to operate on a 24/7 basis. The casino has failed to generate sufficient revenue and the Hilton management recently decided that it was time to shutdown the casino for good.
The casino industry in Puerto Rico has suffered greatly over the past decade and has resulted in the closure of seven casinos in the last five years. Puerto Rico has a small population of around 3.5 million and the casinos have not been able to attract sufficient customers. The Condado Plaza Hilton confirmed that during the last decade, slot machine revenue has fallen by forty percent.
The Hilton management decided that it would shutdown the casino because the Puerto Rican economy has struggled for the last decade and has been in recession for the last 9 years. More than 12% of the population is currently unemployed and the few patrons that gamble at the casinos are not high rollers.
Around 144 casino workers were terminated after years of service as the Hilton has decided to focus on other aspects of its business that have consistently brought in revenue. The casino floor could be turned into a ballroom and the Hilton Condado will concentrate on rooms and banquets to bring in the revenue.
Puerto Rico’s Hotel & Tourism Association said it is the seventh casino to close in the past five years on the island of 3.5 million people, which is entering its ninth year of recession and is struggling with a 12.6 percent unemployment rate. However industry analysts believe that one of the reasons why casinos in Puerto Rico suffer to stay afloat is because of the country’s underground gambling industry.
Analysts estimate that there are around 45,000 illegal gambling machines that are known to the locals who prefer to frequent these illegal establishments and play because they can make more money. The Puerto Rican government is aware of the illegal gambling operations and from time to time conduct raids and seize many gambling machines. However they have not been successful in wiping out and reducing the illegal gambling industry.
The Department of Finance also was reported in early June to be moving ahead with plans to approve video lottery terminals at locations other than licensed hotel casinos, further crimping gambling revenues.