CASINO

Two bidders shortlisted to take over Baha Mar; Bermuda designates first casino sites

TAGs: baha mar, Bahamas, bermuda

Two bidders shortlisted to take over Baha Mar; Bermuda designates first casino sitesAt least two serious bidders are vying to take over the stalled $3.5b Baha Mar integrated resort casino in the Bahamas.

Last week, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie told legislators that the bankrupt Baha Mar’s receivers had shortlisted two groups as “preferred bidders” for the project. Christie said Sarkis Izmirlian, the project’s original backer before China Export-Import Bank (EXIM) foreclosed on the property, was not involved with either bid.

One of these bidders has a “Bahamian investor connection” but Christie refused to divulge further details. (Sun International founder Sol Kerzner, who has a Bahamian connection, was previously rumored to be interested in taking over Baha Mar.)

Christie said the Bahamian government was not involved in the negotiations currently taking place in China, which is also home to the property’s principal contractor, China Construction America (CCA).

Last month, Christie announced that a “framework agreement” had been reached between his government, EXIM and CCA to ensure that work on the unfinished Baha Mar property would be completed. This week, Christie said his government was in a “wait position” until it is called upon to issue the necessary permits for work to recommence.

Izmirlian’s Baha Mar Ltd filed for Chapter 11 protection one year ago after missing several opening targets, which the company blamed on CCA’s ineptitude. Around 2k staff members were laid off in October, while Bahamian contractors are still unsure whether they’ll ever recover the $74m they’re owed for unpaid work on the project.

BERMUDA DESIGNATES TWO CASINO SITES
Meanwhile, Bermuda’s tourism ministry has just approved two local businesses – Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and the St. George’s Club – as the first designated sites eligible to apply for one of the three casino licenses the nation plans to award.

The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission opened the designated site application process in March, and executive director Richard Schuetz said there’d been “robust demand” for designation. There’s no limit on the number of sites that can be designated and designation doesn’t guarantee the site will receive a casino license.

Bermuda passed its Casino Gaming Act 2014 in December of that year and hopes were high that the first venue would open by 2017, a timeline that appears increasingly unlikely given the slow pace of the application process.

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