By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Atlantis’s top executive yesterday said its planned multi-million dollar, “seven digit” investment in private gaming rooms was being delayed by the wait for casino gaming reforms to be passed.
George Markantonis, Brookfield Hospitality’s president and managing director, said the proposed casino gaming changes should not be confused or bound up with proposed web shop gaming regulations.
He added that the reforms, if passed into law, would keep Bahamian casinos “level” with their North American competitors while allowing them to undertake other gaming ventures.
“I think they keep us level with our competition in North America, and at the same time, once we get approvals we will be able to go ahead with one or two capital expenditure projects that we have,” Mr Markantonis told Tribune Business.
“A good example will be the private gaming rooms. It’s fully designed but it’s still one of the gaming regulations that needs to be approved.
“It’s at the design phase. The investment is significant, they’re in the seven digits. Our design work has been done, we just can’t commence construction.”
Mr Markantonis added: “North American casinos at the high-end normally do have private gaming rooms, and those do attract a clientele that we don’t receive today, whether it is an international client base or a client base that wishes to game in privacy, particularly in Las Vegas, which is where the sports books are.”
While the proposed casino gaming reforms have been somewhat lost amid the web shop debate, Mr Markantonis stressed that regulation of that industry and the modernisation of casino gaming in the Bahamas were two different issues.
“We made our views known to government regarding the legislation but I don’t know where they are with everything at this point,” he added.
The Gaming Modernisation Bill, and associated regulations, will allow Bahamas-based casinos - Atlantis and Baha Mar, plus those at the Grand Lucayan and Bimini Bay resorts - to offer on-property sports betting, in-play wagering, proxy wagering and online gaming via cell phones and computers. There will also be incentives for ‘junket’ group visits.