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Immigrants likely to occupy casino job vacancies

Published:Friday | January 29, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THOUSANDS OF jobs in the casino-gaming industry might be out of the reach of Jamaicans this year as persons from overseas might have to be recruited to fill positions requiring technical skills and already-trained personnel.

A special select committee of Parliament has been rushing to complete deliberations on draft legislation to establish casino gaming in the country. A two-week deadline has been set to complete the rigorous discussion.

However, during Wednesday's meeting at Gordon House, committee members discovered that certain stipulations were contained in the proposed law which required the licensing of casino workers who first satisfied due-diligence requirements.

Derek Peart, executive director of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, told the parliamentary committee examining the draft law to establish a casino-gaming commission that skilled personnel might have to be recruited from outside Jamaica's borders to fill vacant positions.

His comments came against the background of a query made by committee member Philip Paulwell, who wanted to know the categories of workers that would need a licence to operate in a casino-gaming entity.

"I would hate for us to be issuing work permits to fill these positions," said Paulwell.

Acting chairman of the committee, Gregory Mair, expressed similar sentiments.

"What member Paulwell has highlighted is important, and we should start looking at the aspect of employment and ensuring that Jamaicans are employed in these resorts," he said.

The BGLC executive director pointed out that any person administering a table would be required to have a licence.

Peart said that in more developed jurisdictions, even persons who worked "in the kitchen and supplied goods" were required to be licensed.

Peart estimated that 1,200 workers would be needed to carry out gaming activities at a casino on a 24-hour basis.

He indicated that licensed personnel might have to be sourced elsewhere if Jamaicans were not trained to take up these positions.

International training

The staff of BGLC has received training from the Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC), an institution in the United States, which provides international training in gaming machines and table games.

"We have sought, for the past three years, to have a partnership established between ACCC and a local educational institution," said Peart.

He said the aim was to set up a local facility to train Jamaicans, adding that it would be too costly to send persons overseas to acquire training.

"We try to make arrangements with Portmore Community College and are still in discussions with HEART Trust/NTA in respect of technicians and other persons that the industry will need," Peart told the committee.

'I would hate for us to be issuing work permits to fill these positions.'