Second bidder given more time to respond to queries
The first Integrated Resort Development (IRD) licence is to be awarded in the coming weeks, based on the recommendation of the Enterprise Team overseeing the process.
The granting of IRD is a precursor to awarding of casino gaming licence for entry into the much coveted billion-dollar casino industry, which Jamaica has been trying to exploit for years. Two applications were received for the two exclusive zones that were on offer with one of the bidders being successful.
This was disclosed by Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, speaking at Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee on Wednesday. He told the committee, which is combing through the 2023-2024 Estimates of Expenditure, that the Enterprise Team has made a positive recommendation in respect of one of the bidders.
Enterprise Team recommendation
He advised that the 10-member Enterprise Team, chaired by Dr Dana Dixon and comprising Roxanne Miller, Hugh Morris, Maureen Simms, Jhanelle-Rae Bowie, Shullette Cox, Denise Arana, Madge Ramsay, Tiva Russell-Forbes, and Audrey Robinson, has recommended that the other applicant be given sufficient time to respond to some of the queries from the team.
Clarke promised to provide details about the successful applicant during his Budget Debate presentation next week. Jamaica has been attempting for well over a decade to develop casino gaming as part of its IRD concept.
The Casino Gaming Act 2010 was brought into force in June 2010 to facilitate Jamaica’s entry into and subsequent regulation of the casino gaming sector. However, previous applicants have been stymied by the financing requirements.
Among those previous applicants under the old regime, which has more onerous financing requirements, were Casino Royale, backed by Robert Salm’s Drax Hall Limited in partnership with American investor, Phillip Reynolds; Amaterra Jamaica Limited, proposed by Jamaican developer, Keith Russell and American partner, Charles Murphy III of Arkansas; Celebration Jamaica Development Limited and the Government’s own bidder, Harmony Cove Limited, a partnership between Harmonization (jointly owned by the Development Bank of Jamaica and the National Housing Trust) and Tavistock International Investment Group.
Requirements for an IRD
An integrated resort development must have a minimum of 1,000 hotel rooms, of which 500 must be luxury rooms. Additionally, the development must have a minimum capital investment of US$500 million.
The Enterprise Team was established to receive and process applications, undertake due diligence, and make recommendations regarding the award of licences. The concept of integrated resort development was introduced by the Government in consideration of further expanding the tourism product.
These luxury resort developments include, but are not limited to, hotels, villas, sporting and recreational facilities, shopping centres and casino gaming.
Under Jamaica’s Casino Gaming Act, the minister responsible for finance may make an order declaring an Integrated Resort Development to be an approved. This will enable the developer to then make an application to the Casino Gaming Commission for a licence to be issued, under the Act, to operate a casino within that resort development.