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New $184m gaming lounge for Wyndham

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter

BusinessmEn Adam Epstein and partner Gassan Azan have invested more than US$2 million (about J$184 million) to further expand into the gaming sector, with the Vault gaming lounge scheduled to be opened at the Wyndham Hotel in New Kingston next week.

The partners previously launched a chain of betting shops, Sizzling Slots last year, operating in downtown, Kingston, Half-Way Tree and Old Harbour, St. Catherine.

They have since closed the Half Way Tree location, but Epstein said the plan for islandwide expansion still remains on the horizon.

For now, however, the focus is on getting the Vault up and running.

"The decor is more than you can imagine and our business model is geared towards great customer service and promotions, making sure they get value for money," Epstein told Sunday Business in an interview last week.

"We expect it to be great and set a new standard in gaming," he added.

Epstein said the lounge will be outfitted with approximately 145 machines, offering games such as blackjack, poker, roulette and an array of slot machines.

Three-year lease

The Wyndham hotel previously housed the Villagio, operated by Supreme Ventures Limited, but was closed about three years ago after the company opted not to renew a lease with the hotel.

At the time of the closure of the Villagio, Supreme Ventures said the gaming lounge was racking up substantial losses and, given the lease structure with the hotel, it was an opportune time to exit. The company said, too, that it had expected savings of between $15 and $20 million from the closure.

Like Supreme Ventures, Epstein said the space is being leased from the hotel for a three-year period with automatic two-year renewals.

He declined to disclose further details about the contractual arrangement with the hotel.

However, Epstein is optimistic about the outlook for the operation and says it should provide employment for upwards of about 60 persons.

At the top of the year, the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) lifted an eight-year ban on the licensing of gaming lounges, allowing for a minimum of 20, and a maximum of 150 gaming machines as it tries to bring in more revenues for the Government.

The BGLC said that since the lifting of the ban, it has received seven applications for gaming lounges.

Vault will be competing with a range of other established entities in the business.

There is Supreme Ventures, which operates the chain of Acropolis branches and Coral Cliff, Montego Bay. Supreme Ventures is also set to open a new gaming lounge at the Market Place Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, come January.

There are others such as Monte Carlo at the Terra Nova Hotel, St. Andrew and Fletcher's, a gaming lounge once located at Upper Waterloo Road, St. Andrew, which, in July 2008, transferred its operation to Mandeville, Manchester, and is now trading as Palace.

Other competitors include Vegas Gaming in Liguanea, St. Andrew and also in Montego Bay, St. James; Treasure Hunt in Kingston and Ocho Rios; Caribbean Treasures in Montego Bay and El Rancho based on Hope Road, St Andrew.

Vault will also face competition from the newly opened Macau gaming lounge at Lindsay Crescent, off Dunrobin Road in St Andrew.