Jamaica will not be a casino destination, says Bartlett
Despite being slated to open the doors to its first regulated casino in 2020, Jamaica has no plans to be known or defined as a casino destination.
Speaking at a seminar on the ‘Hospitality Industry and Casino Operators’ Guide to Managing US Liability Issues from the Caribbean’ in Montego Bay, St James recently, Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, said the country will not take that route.
“The fact is that casinos are not a requirement for Jamaica’s growth, but within the context of the integrated development model, casino gaming is a driver for exponential growth. We do not see Jamaica ever becoming known as a casino destination, but rather a destination in which casino gaming is available,” he said.
Bartlett indicated that Jamaica has shied away from gaming as a structured path of the tourism experience for several reasons.
“One of which has been the experiences that we have looked at in other places, and we have seen some of the attendant negatives, and we question very much whether or not we would be able, ourselves, to manage and be able to deal with the negative impact of it,” he said.
The minister said while there are also religious considerations, a decision was made to explore the option of casino gambling as a tourism product
“Because it does provide a lucrative element of the tourism product and it has the potential to drive growth to a level that would put Jamaica where it ought to be in terms of the level required to generate additional gross domestic product (GDP),” Bartlett said of the rationale behind a limited embracing of casino gambling.
As a tourism product, casino gaming is expected to contribute two per cent of GDP to the economy.
Statistics show that 4.3 million visitors went to Jamaica last year, even without the lure of a casino.
“Casinos should represent no more than 20 per cent of the value of the experience that is offered as the integrated development arrangement,” Bartlett said.