On Friday November 2nd, we opened the casino at the Belize Yacht Club. The intent was to have a "Soft Opening" whereby we would be training our staff and testing our systems for about 30 days until the actual Grand Opening on December 1, 2007. This was a soft opening with no advertising, no invitations sent out, or no official announcements made. Much to our surprise, the night started and continued with standing-room only inside the casino. The atmosphere was filled with fun and excitement, and while we had some startup challenges, most things went very smoothly.
As the night wore on, we came to realize that our systems and procedures for crowd control were not established sufficiently to handle the volume of customers. The decision to give free beer led to a high level of intoxication by some customers, and the end result was that by 1:00 am, the best decision was to close the casino for the night. As you may imagine, this decision was met with quite a bit of resistance by some customers, and in particular, by a seemingly rough group that showed up late with very little intention other than to drink.
Our casino partner and CEO tried his best to calm the crowd, but when things started to get out of hand, particularly with the aforementioned group, he made a decision to seek the assistance of the police to close the casino. Unfortunately, the stress leading up the event and the stress of a larger than expected crowd, along with systems being tested, combined with fatigue by our management and staff, led to an uncomfortable situation whereby all customers were asked to immediately leave, assisted by the police personnel on hand.
Naturally, being asked to immediately leave an establishment can never be a desirable situation, but unlike a nightclub where gentle reminders can be given such as dimming the lights, or announcing a last call at the bar, security has to be the first concern at closing time for a casino.
We would like to offer our personal and sincere apology to anyone that felt that the manner in which the casino was closed on this first day was uncomfortable or insulting in any way. We would especially like to apologize to our customers who we know are respectable members of the San Pedro Community that were also unfortunately caught up in our removal of the aforementioned group, and we ask that we be given the opportunity to correct our mistake. It was never our intention for this to become the case. Since this incident, the process has been reviewed with our management, staff and security personnel to ensure a clear set of protocol is followed for the security and the handling of customers during stress situations such as was encountered on Friday at closing.
The management of the Belize Yacht Club and Casino Belize is committed to providing an enjoyable and safe environment in which residents and visitors to San Pedro can spend time relaxing and enjoying our games. We ask for your patience during this training phase of our business, and we welcome any suggestions for improvement or criticism of our service at any time.
CEO Island Club Resorts
Joseph P. Marinan
CEO Casino Belize