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For those interesting in the status of gambling in Belize, here's a brief report on the casino in Belize City.
BIG NEW CASINO OPENS IN BELIZE CITY
By Lan Sluder
Copyright 2000, Belize First Magazine
Free Web edition at http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/
Big-time gambling has come to Belize.
Belize's first Las Vegas-style casino opened in January at the Princess Belize Hotel & Casino. Located on the waterfront on Barracks Road, the Princess is the former Fiesta Inn which was the former Ramada Inn. Maybe the third time is the charm?
The hotel has done extensive building and renovation to house the casino. It also laid on the new marble for the lobby. A new restaurant will open soon, along with either a conference facility or a cinema. No one seemed sure which it would be.
What have NOT been remodeled or upgraded in any way are the rooms. They are a bit down at the heels, overpriced for what you get, and they in no way compare to the rooms at the Radisson Fort George, the Great House or other quality places in Belize City. I was told that the 118 rooms and suites -- the Princess is the largest hotel in Belize -- are scheduled to be renovated "soon."
The first thing you notice about the casino, which is to the right as you enter the hotel lobby, is the size: It is BIG, much bigger than I thought it would be. Okay, it's not quite the MGM Grand, but it is a serious gaming room. As you enter the casino, slot machines, video poker and other electronic gaming machines, nearly 500 altogether, dominate the main part of the room. Live tables -- black jack, roulette, craps and poker -- are toward the back. An additional section of machines and tables is scheduled to open soon at the rear of the room.
There's a big bar, and, as in Vegas, players get free drinks and a free buffet. Russian dancing girls -- I'm not making this up -- put on two shows in the evening.
The casino is open from noon until 4 a.m. Although originally the Belize government said players would have to bet with U.S., not Belize currency, in fact either Belizean or U.S. dollars, or for all I know other currencies, are being accepted for chips. You are supposed to obtain a membership to visit the casino, but the attendant told me that if I only wanted to go a few times I did not need to become a member.
When I was there, few in the crowd appeared to be tourists. Many of the big gamblers appeared to be Chinese living in Belize. There were a number of attractive women in attendance.
For information, contact: Princess Hotel & Casino, Kings Park, Belize City; tel. 011-501-2-32670, fax 2-32660; e-mail: [email protected]
Other gaming in Belize: The only other casino open now is The Palace, a casino the size of a convenience store in San Pedro. It has a few live tables, maximum bet US$10, and a room for slots. Reportedly, a casino is to be opened in the Corozal Free Zone in northern Belize, and other casinos may open, now that they are permitted under Belizean laws enacted in late 1999. Some stores, shops, restaurants and hotels have video poker or other game machines.
Belize is also gearing up as a base for Internet gambling. Datapro International, for example, reportedly has hired staff (at attractive wages) and is building a facility which will be a center for Internet gaming on the Northern Highway and the road to Burrell Boom.
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