Seven apply for gaming lounge licences
The Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) says it has received seven applications for gaming lounges since the lifting of an eight-year ban in January.
Gaming lounges are allowed to operate with 20-150 machines.
Shops with up to 19 machines are classified as betting lounges.
"There are seven applications being processed as we speak," said Derek Peart, executive director of BGLC. None have yet been approved.
Under the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act, lounges with fewer than 20 machines pay a flat tax of J$10,000 per annum, while those with 20 or more pay 10 per cent of gross profit in taxes.
Last year, Government collected J$264 million as direct lounge revenue, Peart said.
Currently there are about 27 gaming lounges operating in the sector.
The BGLC head did not reveal the names of the new applicants.
However, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), already an established player and the largest operator in the market, says it expects to set up at least one more gaming lounge this year.
"The location is still to be finalised," said president and chief executive officer Brian George.
SVL, under its wholly owned subsidiary Prime Sports Limited, operates four gaming lounges: three under the Acropolis brand at Barbican, Portmore, and State Mall in Cross Roads; and the Coral Cliff lounge in Montego Bay.
Other players in the market include Monte Carlo at the Terra Nova, Treasure Hunt in Ocho Rios, Caribbean Treasures in Montego Bay as well as Fletcher's, which now trades in Mandeville as Palace.
In August 2011, SVL downsized its Acropolis May Pen gaming lounge to a betting lounge.
Applications for betting lounges have also been increasing. Peart said the BGLC received 188 applications, of which 80 were issued licences while the other 108 are being processed.
Gassan Azan and business partner Adam Epstein were the latest to announce an investment of some J$2 billion in a new chain of gaming shops branded 'Sizzling Slots' across Kingston last November.