Gov't may offer casino gambling for large hotel investments

BSJ News Desk
May 3, 2019

The Barbados government is considering allowing the developers of large tourism projects to offer casino gambling and to build much taller buildings, says Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds. Delivering the feature address at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s annual Connect event, being held at the Hilton resort, Mr. Symmonds said the present town planning legislation had restrictions on both “vertical building” and “gaming tables” which other destinations offered and thus making it harder for Barbados to compete.

For example, he said, the Hilton, at six or seven stories high, was one of the tallest buildings on the island. Permission to operate a casinos and to build much taller buildings would be treated as concessions for developers in return for investing in large-scale developments.

Mr. Symmonds said the quid pro quo would also require those developers to spend five percent of the total project cost on upgrading the communities around their properties, noting that Prime Minister Mia Mottley had made this a requirement in order to forestall the de facto creation of so-called urban ghettos which have arisen in other countries in the region.

To keep the local population from getting involved in casino gambling, he said, it was envisaged that guests would have to stay at a hotel for a few days before being allowed to gamble, and use only US dollars.

The tourism minister said that in the age of what he called mega-tourism developments, keeping the present restrictions on vertical building and gambling was making the country uncompetitive in attracting new tourism investment, as it was like trying to fight with one hand tied behind your back.