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ST. LUCIA CONSIDERING CASINO GAMING

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The fierce competition between Caribbean tourism destinations will increase next year as St. Lucia readies to enter into the world of casino gaming.
St. Lucia’s Parliament this week addressed the gaming issue, which will likely be voted on early next year, according to the British Broadcasting Company. Tourism officials are looking at casino gambling as a way to diversify the tourism economy, which accounts for 12 percent of the island nation’s gross domestic product and employs some 11,000 people.
With an eye toward boosting the local economy, voters in the U.S. Virgin Islands approved casino gambling in 1995 for the island of St. Croix. The legislation allowing gaming mandates that a casino operation be tied to the construction of new hotel rooms.
Approximately 155,000 people live on St. Lucia while about 115,000 live in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. Croix’s first casino-hotel is set to open in January or February at the Divi Carina Bay Resort. A second gaming application is being reviewed by the government’s Casino Control Commission.
While there is opposition to casino gaming on St. Lucia, primarily from the St. Lucia Christian Council, tourism officials have said that some 75 percent of the island’s religious community supports the idea, the BBC reported.

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