Yet another casino in Puerto Rico has announced that it is shutting down operations due to the tough economic conditions in the country.
Along with the hotel portion, the casino facility situated within the El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde sector of Carolina had closed temporarily last year for a total refurbishment. It was scheduled to reopen early February but a hotel official has announced that it would not be opening as planned.
In a statement co proprietor Andro Nodarse León co-proprietor said
As the remodelling of El San Juan reaches its final stage, we have faced the difficult decision not to reopen the casino. Due to the economic challenges and the current tourism situation in Puerto Rico, (the hotel) has decided not to reopen its casino this Sunday, February 5, 2017, when the hotel reopens its doors
El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel
This is the seventh gaming facility to have shut down in the past seven years according to a local television broadcaster. The last few closures have been the InterContinental San Juan Resort & Casino in January 2016 and the Condado Plaza Hilton in July 2015. The $35-$40 million revamp project for Hotel San Juan involved a major upgrade to the property which has been operational since 1958. Around 100 people are expected to be rendered unemployed by the closure.
Puerto Rico’s casino industry plays a major role in financially supporting the country’s Tourism Board as well as its State University. Diminishing revenues from the sector has hit funding for both these operations. Puerto Rico has been experiencing a lengthy economic crisis and it has reached a stage where the country is no longer able to service its $71.5 billion debt. Ricardo Rosselló, the newly sworn-in governor for the state has warned that there weren’t enough funds to pay the salaries of public workers in February.
In addition to a weakened economy, the casino industry in Puerto Rico has been impacted by the extensive spread of illegal gaming machines. As much as 45,000 illegal slot machines are operational across the country and are attached to small retail businesses.
As a means to generate revenue, the government is exploring ways to legalize Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) which would allow them to be hosted by top hotels. It estimated that this move might yield over $100 million in revenue. The proposal has however been resisted by local operators since it could significantly cut into revenue of their existing gaming facilities.