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Gaming lounges advised to bolster operations before casino rivals arrive

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 6:00 AMTameka Gordon

The Ministry of Finance and Planning is projecting inflows of $7 billion from the gaming industry this year, up from $4.5 billion last year.

"That is why we are paying so much attention to this sector," Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Horace Dalley, said Thursday at

the second annual gaming industry summit hosted in Kingston on Thursday by the

Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission.

He said the recent approval for provisional development orders, to be issued to Harmony Cove Limited and Celebration Jamaica Development Limited as integrated casino resort developers, shows the government's readiness to facilitate growth in the sector.

The companies are required to develop the first 1,000 rooms under the first phase of an eventual 2,000-room complex or bigger before applying to the Casino Gaming Commission for a casino licence.

Harmony Cove is expected to invest US$970 million in its first phase, and Celebration US$500 million.

Dalley said the government does not expect the casinos to cannibalise the operations of gaming lounges but urged them to boost their operations nonetheless.

"We do not anticipate a shift in your current clientele from your gaming lounges to these large-scale casinos and resorts. However, you can't just sit down and feel that people are going to come there forever," he said.

He urged operators to be proactive and review their business models to retain their market positions and customer base.

The minister also said the Government is committed to the introduction of Internet gaming "and is reviewing the intricacies".

"We recognise that the rapid expansion of internet use and access has lead to the growth of the online gaming market, which represents one of the fastest growing segments of gaming industry worldwide," he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com