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As Jamaica moves to implement casino gaming, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has said that the Government expects to award the first casino licence this year and construction on the island’s first casino is expected to commence by year-end.

"This year, our casino dream will definitely begin to unfold in a more positive and practical way. We expect that licences will be issued this year and we hope that construction will begin at least on one property before the end of this year," he said.

Minister Bartlett was addressing a media breakfast on January 17 for local and international journalists attending Caribbean Marketplace 2011 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James.

He informed that the Commission, established to regulate the operations of casinos, is preparing to examine applications for licences. He said the government expects to grant at least three licences over the next three years for casino operations in three main resort areas.  

The operations will take place in Montego Bay, another at a development in Trelawny, and the third in the western end of the island.

The Tourism Minister said that Jamaica expects to earn in the region of US$120 million from the three operations on a quarterly basis.  

He however emphasised that casino gambling will be introduced and operated in a controlled manner to ensure that it does not define the destination but simply becomes another offering provided for visitors.

"Jamaica will soon become a destination that offers casino gambling experience, rather than a casino destination," he added.  

Minister Bartlett said that casino gambling can play a key role in improving earnings for the country and also provide employment for a significant number of Jamaicans.

The Bill to legislate casino gaming in Jamaica was passed in both Houses of Parliament in March, 2010.

CONTACT:  GLENIS ROSE
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE
MONTEGO BAY