New Casino Planned for Carribean Island St. Lucia

CASTRIES, St. Lucia_St. Lucian authorities have approved plans for the first casino in the eastern Caribbean island, hoping to boost the country's vital tourist industry.

The casino, which will include 350 slot machines and 14 gaming tables, is scheduled to open by December, according to the management company, Treasure Bay Corp. LLC of Biloxi, Mississippi.

Treasure Bay said the 15,000 square-foot (4,500 square-meter) casino would be built 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the capital, Castries, and would employ 300 full-time workers.

"We are very excited to be working with Treasure Bay, St. Lucia, Ltd. in a partnership to enhance the amenities on St. Lucia," said Peter Foster, the mayor of Castries and an attorney for the casino. "We look forward to seeing the final product and to their assistance in further boosting our economy."

In the past, casino proposals have been opposed by religious leaders and the St. Lucia Labor Party when it was in the opposition. But the SLP, which has been the ruling party since 1997, later reversed its position on the issue.

[Associated Press WorldStream -- 01/31/06]