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Investigation could delay opening of Baha Mar Casino And Hotel
Wed March 22 2017

In the Bahamas, the scheduled April 21 opening date of the beleaguered Baha Mar Casino And Hotel has been put in doubt after local customs officials reportedly revealed that they have initiated an investigation into the types of gaming equipment imported for use at the $3.5 billion development.

According to a report from The Nassau Guardian newspaper, the island nation’s customs office is to look into whether the slots set to be utilized at the development are on a list of “prohibited and restricted imports and exports” as no valid license has yet been issued by the Gaming Board For The Bahamas.

The newspaper reported that current customs regulations prohibit any “person, club or organization” from importing without the possession of a valid license under the terms of the Lotteries And Gaming Act “mechanical games and devices” that are initiated by the “insertion of a coin or token” and then “return mechanically or otherwise” any prize that is of “greater total value than that of the coin or token inserted”.

The Nassau Guardian also reported that these rules prohibit the importation of “parts and accessories of such games or devices” and the situation has left many wondering why casino operator Sky Warrior (Bahamas) Limited, which is a subsidiary of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, was allowed to bring the slots into the country before the Gaming Board For The Bahamas had approved its license.

Graeme Davis, President for Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, recently told local radio station ZNGR-FM that the Hong Kong-based conglomerate had purchased slots worth $20 million for the Baha Mar Casino And Hotel and that the machines were on their way to the Bahamas. This was soon followed a revelation by from the nation’s Attorney General, Allyson Maynard Gibson, that the units were on the dock and ready to be installed although a public hearing set for next week is to look into why the slots were imported before a license had been issued.

Initially a project of BMD Holdings with funding from China Export-Import Bank, Baha Mar Casino And Hotel with its 1,800 rooms was initially scheduled to open for business in 2014 but ran into delays and difficulties that ultimately led to it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in a Delaware court in 2015. The developer, which was headed by real estate billionaire Sarkis Izmirlian, subsequently blamed these problems on China State Construction Engineering Corporation and its China Construction America Bahamas subsidiary before submitting an unsuccessful offer designed to resurrect the development.

In a move that it hoped would protect the economy of the Bahamas, Prime Minister Perry Christie’s government ultimately liquidated the entire project on New Providence Island in October before two months later signing a purchase agreement with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, which has a presence in global real estate, hospitality, transportation and casino businesses.

However, Monday saw The Tribune newspaper report that the previously announced sale of the Baha Mar Casino And Hotel project to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited subsidiary CTF BM Holdings for an undisclosed amount had yet to be completed while the opening of the development’s Rosewood-branded hotel has now been delayed until the spring of 2018.

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