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Jan 7, 2000

Casino opens to public

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If you’ve been wondering about all the activity on the Barracks, starting tonight, you can come in and take a look for yourself. It’s the opening of the casino at the newly renovated Princess Hotel. Legislation passed last year has paved the way for full fledged casino gambling in Belize and News Five’s Janelle Chanona got a sneak preview.

Martin Conway, Princess Hotel and Casino

“The casino is a members only casino which means that membership is open to everybody but of course you have to be eighteen years of age. You have to arrive here to fill in the application with a piece of identity, an official piece of identity. You have to be well dressed in correct clothes. Correct attire of clothes we are going to use this evening. It’s up to the management to decide who can be a member and who cannot be a member. The discretion’s on our part.

Tonight is going to be a soft opening. Soft opening I mean we are not quite ready to open but because of the demand here in Belize we wish to open as soon as possible. We were trying for New Year’s Eve last week but it just wasn’t possible. Tonight we’ll be opening around two hundred fifty slot machines. The rest of the machines will come after, another hundred fifty to two hundred machines will be coming in. Plus we will be bringing in the live table games, the black jacks, the rulets, the pontobanko, the crabs, the poker — games like this.”

Q: “What’s the max you can win?”

Martin Conway

“Depends on how much you wish to bet. Let’s say, on the slots you can win up to four hundred thousand coins on one of the slots which is twenty-five cents which is one hundred thousand American dollars on one of the slot machines. But of course the slot machines, the more you bet the more you get.

It’s different from the live games where you’re actually sitting down, it’s more calculated. The slot machines you put your money in five cents machines, twenty-five cents machines and one-dollar machines this evening will be operating. It’s all in American currency, US currency which is one of the criteria laid down in the regulations here in Belize.

We have a group brought in this evening which we especially brought in from Russia. These are very professional girls, very beautiful girls. I think you are going to see a show you’ve never seen here in Belize before. I’ve seen it before in the other islands where we work because we bring them with us every time. They are very entertaining. They will be doing two shows every night in the casino and I think that’s going to be a great attraction for the tourists; they’re here in Belize City and even out in the cayes and islands.”

Q: “So the casino will be opened here on out?”

Martin Conway

“Every night. We will open tonight at seven and close at four in the morning. And from tomorrow it’s twelve midday to four every day. Show twice nightly. And also in the casino we have a bar where we serve free drinks for players. You don’t play no free drinks; you must play to get the free drinks and we have a buffet also which will be offered to players.”

Management of the casino is largely in the hands of expatriate staff but Conway says that as Belizeans are trained in casino management, they will gradually take over.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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