The idea of legalising gaming in Cayman to allow for the development of casinos or even a national lottery is one which has been in the background of debates over tourism’s future for some time.
In 2010, as government sought to find ways to diversify and boost the economy after the financial crisis, the paper, ‘Entertainment Gaming in the Cayman Islands’, produced for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, highlighted some of the potential benefits of the industry.
The idea resurfaced again during the Strategic Economic and Advisory Council discussions, though it was not highlighted as a priority recommendation.
Across the world, the casino industry is reeling from the impacts of COVID-19.
During the second quarter of this year commercial gaming revenues in the US were down 79% when compared to the same period in 2019, according to the American Gaming Association.
Meanwhile, dozens of Native American tribes that rely on casinos for income are appealing for a government bailout.
While there is still some support for gaming in Cayman, there is a general consensus that now is not likely the right time to roll the dice on that sector.
With the added complications of the expected battle over gambling legislation in the territory, even those who previously supported the idea suggest it is not worth pursuing right now.
Those who spoke with the Compass said they did not think the concept was viable in the short term and did not want to be quoted discussing it as an option in this context.
- This story is part of a feature series this week looking at possible new niches for the tourism industry.