Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
An international real-estate agent has launched an ambitious scheme to make Jamaica the 'Las Vegas of the Caribbean'.
Joel Langer, through his United States-based company, International Investment Auction, has already identified four properties in Jamaica, which he says are perfect for the establishment of casinos.
The properties are in Paradise Park, Westmoreland; Mammee Bay, St Ann; Fustic Grove, St Elizabeth and Ironshore, St James.
"Jamaica is an island paradise. I want to promote the country because it is a great place," Langer told The Sunday Gleaner.
"This idyllic setting is the perfect place to create core casino operations, with a host of spin-off entertainment options for every taste," added Langer, who is president of the firm with its head office in Chicago.
Langer, during a visit to Jamaica last September, spoke to the owners of the four properties which are now up for sale.
They will be offered for sale during a public auction on April 29 and Langer is confident that Brand Jamaica will attract the interest of international investors.
"There are 47 major companies around the world, which build and operate casinos, and they are looking to expand, so I'm trying to get them to Jamaica.
"This is a great time to invest in Jamaica," declared Langer as he argued that the global economic downturn will not scare away potential investors.
According to Langer, the Government's decision to allow the establishment of casinos in Jamaica will provide a boost to the tourism sector, in particular, and the entire economy in general.
"We expect to see the value of prime Jamaican real estate climb 30 per cent to 40 per cent over the next five years as a direct result of the recent legislation," said the veteran auctioneer.
"The Caribbean has long been a favoured destination for East Coast and Midwest vacationers, and we believe the introduction of sophisticated gambling operations in Jamaica will have a strong, additional appeal."
Langer noted that the Jamaican Government is seeking to attract major investors to establish casinos as part of the effort to increase visitor arrivals and enhance the offering for visitors.
Last November, the Senate passed regulations to facilitate the application of casino gaming licences for approved integrated resort development.
The Casino Gaming ((Prescribed Games) Regulations 2012 and the Casino Gaming (Application for Declaration of Approved Integrated Resort Development) Regulations were passed unanimously, having already been given the nod of approval by the Lower House.
In 2008, the the Bruce Golding-led administration first announced its intention to introduce casino gaming through a proposed investment of US$6.8 billion in two gaming hotels, Harmony Cove and Celebration Jamaica.
At that time, Golding announced that casino licenses would be granted to establishments with no less than 1,000 rooms and US$1.5 billion in investments.
In addition, the casinos would be no more than 20 per cent of the total investment and subject to rigorous approval by government agencies.
The two projects were expected to generate some 33,000 jobs, but they have been delayed for numerous reasons.
Celebration was announced as a 2,000-room, US$1.8-billion development to be spread across 65 acres of ocean-front land in Montego Bay, while Harmony Cove was billed as a US$2-billion 4,000/5,000-room project in Trelawny.