Crystal Palace Casino forced to make adjustments - Monday 21st of July 2008

One local gaming house has already started to adjust to the sluggish market. The Crystal Palace Casino has now been forced to make adjustments to its operating hours, something its owners attribute to a falloff in the number of tourists coming to play a hand or two of cards or some other table game.

"We are trying to get the efficient use of the operating hours of the casino," said Robert Sands, Baha Mars VP of External Affairs. "We are understanding the traffic flow of people through the area and matching labor to business levels."

The casino has bumped back its starting time for table games by an hour, along with other adjustments to its schedule, meant to contain staffing and related costs. It has already retreated from the round-the-clock operations that mark most North American gambling establishments.

The moves are likely to raise speculation about what, if any, effect the closure of Baha Mars Nassau Beach Hotel has had on casino traffic. The competition from Atlantis and its casino has also likely exacerbated any difficulties the Cable Beach operation is grappling with.

However, Sands does not see the P.I. establishment as competition.

"We dont compete with Atlantis, we complement them," he told Guardian Business. "We have two separate business markets."

Even though Atlantis may not be the competitor, it is in fact producing the most revenue among its counterparts across The Bahamas. It hasnt made any adjustments to its hours of operation, still maintaining a broader 10 A.M. to 4 A.M. daily schedule. Sands will likely track what if any effect his reduced timetable will have in buoying Atlantis business.

The domestic industry as a whole may need some kind of assistance.

The government only collected $13 million in tax revenue from the gaming industry for the year ending February 2008 — about $15 million short of earlier projections. That higher guesstimate of $28.5 million was probably an unrealistic goal considering the more modest revenue of $13.8m anticipated for the previous year and the $15.5m the government is now projecting for fiscal 2008-9.

Despite the local competition that these casinos are currently engaged in, The Bahamas still has to compete on a global level. Although the U.S. currently generates the most revenue from casinos worldwide, the minimal growth expected there suggests The Bahamas is also threatened by increasing global competition and the willingness of Americans and others to go further afield for their gaming fun.

The local industrys success or lack thereof will likely be viewed as a direct reflection on the state of the economy, which is struggling from a downturn in visitor numbers, the direct result of a faltering U.S. economy.

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