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Casinos to face big licensing fees

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Seekers of casino licences will have to pay a fee totalling US$150,000, a third of which is a non-reimburseable application fee, while the rest will be treated as a deposit to finance investigations of the applicant.

But under new regulations tabled in the Parliament last week, the Casino Gaming Commission will provide regular updates on its expenditures as its investigations proceed and will reimburse the unused funds out of the US$100,000 deposit. Conversely, where the cost of the due diligence probe exceeds the deposit, the applicant will be required to replenish the funds.

The successful applicant will then be faced with an initial licensing fee comprising a flat rate of US$250,000 plus US$50,000 per gaming table. The regulations are silent on the upper and lower limits of allowable tables per casino.

The annual licensing fee after the first year will be priced at US$250,000 plus US$1,000 per table.

The casino operator will also pay annual staff fees for special categories of workers, ranging from US$250 to US$750 per person.

All fees may be paid in either Jamaican or US currency.

The licence will be up for review by the Casino Commission every five years as outlined in the Casino Gaming Act of 2010.

The casino fees are additional to fees that an investor must pay to the Ministry of Finance seeking an Approved Integrated Resort Development order, or AIRD, which is a precondition for applying for the casino licence.

Investors compete for AIRD orders via bids invited by the Ministry of Finance. The first such invitation, for which applicants paid a bid fee of US$150,000, resulted in two qualified bids: Robert Trotta's Celebration Jamaica Limited; and Harmony Cove Limited, a partnership of the Government of Jamaica and Tavistock Group.

On Wednesday, Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips said an announcement on the successful bid or bids was imminent.

The law allows for the issuance of three licences.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com