he Government of Jamaica announced that the process for interested investors to submit proposals for the Integrated Resort Development (IRD) has commenced. Applications for the operation of the approved IRD have been open since Wednesday, October 6, as the Government shores up its strategies to attract casino gaming investment in the country.
Minister of Finance and Public Service, Nigel Clarke explained that under the Casino Gaming Act, the Minister responsible for Finance may make an Order declaring an integrated resort development to be 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,” he said in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday on October 5.
The Casino Gaming Act was passed by the Houses of Parliament in March 2010 and brought into force in June 2010 to facilitate Jamaica’s entry into and subsequent regulation of the casino gaming sector.
One of the principal objectives of the Act is to encourage the establishment of integrated resort development, which consists of a mix of various tourism amenities and facilities in the same precinct, including but not limited to hotels, hotel rooms, villas, casinos, attractions, sporting facilities, entertainment facilities, service centers and shopping centers.
Clarke noted that the amendments, which were made to the Casino Gaming Act earlier this year to change the requirements for the designation of an integrated resort, are “meant to enhance the regime and to strengthen its appeal to potential investors, and by doing so attract and increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Jamaica”.
“As at now, there is no operating casino resort in Jamaica despite the fact that we have had this legislation since 2010. It is our intention, with the launch of this process, for Jamaica to eventually have a casino gaming resort, and it is also our intention to attract hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of investment to Jamaica via this means,” he said.
He pointed out that changes to the requirements to be designated an integrated resort development include the establishment of 1,000 hotel rooms, which was reduced from the prior requirement for 2,000 rooms; that five hundred of the constructed rooms are to be designed and implemented as luxury rooms; and there is a minimum capital investment for an integrated resort development of US$500 million.
“In addition, another important change included is that all elements of the approved integrated resort development are to be constructed and operational within three years of the commencement of operation of any casino activity on the development, and that failure to comply will result in a penalty,” he said.
In the meantime, Clarke informed that the application process and selection of the approved integrated resort developments will be managed by a 10-member enterprise team, chaired by Dr. Dana Dixon, which he appointed last month.
The application documents and a summary of the key RFP specification can be obtained from the Ministry of Finance and Planning website at www.mof.gov.jm.