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2004-12-14 16:48:23

New Casino For Exuma

The casino is expected to be open late next year, contingent upon the company receiving the necessary approvals.

The U.S. casino group, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. announced over the weekend that it has signed a letter of intent to sublease premises from Emerald Bay Resort Hotel Limited to operate a casino adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort in Exuma.

It would be the fifth casino operating in The Bahamas, adding to the casinos at the Wyndham Nassau Resort at Cable Beach; the Atlantis Resort on Paradise; and Grand Bahama's Our Lucaya and Royal Oasis Resorts, the latter of which is temporarily closed due to the September hurricanes.

The government has also approved a license as part of the Bimini Bay development project.

The new Exuma casino will be approximately 5,000 square-feet in size and require an investment of approximately $5 million, Pinnacle said in a release.

It said the casino is expected to be open late next year, contingent upon the company receiving approvals from the Government of The Bahamas, including the Hotel Corporation and the Gaming Board, and an execution of a final lease agreement.

“We are excited to add a luxury casino in The Bahamas to our expanding gaming portfolio,' said Daniel R. Lee, chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment. “As Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma is currently operational and the shell of the casino is complete, the timeline to opening of our casino should be relatively short.'

While welcoming plans to open the casino in Exuma, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe yesterday pointed out that casinos in The Bahamas in recent years have not been serving as the primary draw to resorts.

“Casinos are an amenity,' he said. “They're being used as part of the entertainment of many of the guests who come to The Bahamas. But the resorts are in fact driving the people to our country and the same will be true in Exuma.'

Minister Wilchcombe pointed out that Four Seasons has had a remarkable first year and is now booked until next May.

He said with the resort's marina due to be completed in March many boat owners are expected to take advantage of the casino when it opens sometime next year.

“I think it's going to be a part of the offerings that would make the islands even more attractive,' Minister Wilchcombe told the Bahama Journal.

The announcement of the pending casino deal comes one year after Four Seasons opened at Emerald Bay.

The intimate 183-room resort features an Oceanside championship golf course designed by Greg Norman and is set on 470 pristine acres, surrounded by tranquil turquoise waters and mile-long, powdery white sand beach.

The resort was included on Conde Nast Traveler's eight annual “Hot List', which recognizes the top new hotels around the world.

Pinnacle Entertainment owns and operates casinos in Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana and Argentina, and receives lease income from two card club casinos, both in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

The company is currently building a major casino resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana and has been selected for two casino development projects in the St. Louis, Missouri area, according to the statement.

The Bahama Journal

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