Florida-based US attorney Bruce Liebman has advised Jamaica to ramp up its gaming activities and make the move from simply offering gaming lounges to opening up full scale casinos. The aim is to broaden the customer base from mainly locals to attract tourists and holidaymakers into bigger gaming facilities.

Liebman, co-managing partner at law firm Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, issued the advice during his address to a recent seminar titled Hospitality Industry and Casino Operator’s Guide to Managing US Liability issues from the Caribbean. The event, which took place at Sandals Montego Bay was organised jointly by his company and local lawyer Clayton Morgan.

Quoted in the Jamaica observer, Liebman was reported as saying: “We all understand that 22 islands in the Caribbean have some form of legalised gambling, we also know that full-scale casino gambling is not yet permissible in Jamaica. You have the slot parlors, the gaming lounges that are scattered throughout the country… I went to a few of them last night, I didn’t see a lot of tourists there. A lot of locals, but the key is to get the tourists there and the key is to get tourists to bigger gaming operations that they are used to seeing in destination resorts.”

In his speech, he also prompted the government to embrace integrated casino gambling and gain a competitive edge on the state of Florida. “Because of Amendment 3, Jamaica has an unbelievable opportunity to get ahead of the state of Florida. Because I do not think, in my lifetime, we will see any future casino resort growth in Florida, and especially no growth on the ocean.

“I think you can categorically say that there will be no destination Las Vegas-style on the beach in Florida. So if you guys can get there in the next few years and put casinos in an integrated format with entertainment, with condominiums, with shopping, with golf courses, and get it on an ocean with your beautiful sand and your beautiful beaches, you will be ahead of the state of Florida, and I believe that’s a beautiful opportunity.”

Liebman went on to urge potential stakeholders in the casino sector to engage in sports betting before warning them that they should always treat customers hospitably wherever gambling becomes liberalized.

“Your biggest competitors in the region are obviously Bahamas, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and if you guys have the opportunity to bring casino gambling to the island, take care of your customers,” the Observer reported. “I give you one piece of advice, take good care of your patrons. A lot of your competitors in the Caribbean do not value casino customers and do not treat them as they are [treated] in the United States, in Las Vegas, or in gaming centers in the United States.”