Photo Today / Hilbert Haar
St. Maarten News – The Alegria Resort is at war with the Dunes Casino and it wants the government to revoke the gaming house’s permit. The resort has been in and out of court ever since Ray Sidhom bought the former Caravanserai Resort at auction in 2014 for $14 million. The resort has plans to open a casino of its own, though it has not yet obtained a permit for this venture.
Yesterday Alegria was in court in an attempt to get a provisional ruling from the court about its request to the Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs to annul the casino permit of Dunes. Because the minister has not taken a decision about this request yet, Alegria’s attorney Charles Rutte asked the court for a provisional ruling. Rutte considers the non-action by the minister unlawful.
In 2014, International Financial Planning Services (IFPS) obtained the right of long lease to the parcel of land on the Caravanserai Resort where the Dunes Casino stands. The Dunes leases the property from IFPS. Later that same year, the Caravanserai Resort – with the exclusion of the casino – was sold at auction to Ray Sidhom, the owner of EVO Payments, an American credit card payment processor. Sidhom established Alegria Real Estate as the entity that now owns the resort.
The Dunes Casino was originally a hotel-based gaming house. The country’s casino policy allows for the establishment of casinos at hotels that have at least 200 rooms. The ceiling for stand-alone casinos has been set at ten.
The attorney for Alegria argued yesterday that the Dunes became a stand-alone casino after the transfer to IFPS in 2014 and that its permit (as a hotel-based casino) therefore is no longer valid. The minister has to act, Rutte said.
“The Dunes does not qualify for a permit for a stand-alone casino, so it has no right to exist anymore,” Rutte said. “The minister has to revoke the permit when a casino no longer meets the requirements. If the minister does not do that, she violates the law.”
Rutte furthermore said that Alegria “does not want to be associated with the Dunes Casino in any way,” citing potential damage to the resort’s reputation without getting into specifics. He also noted that Alegria wants to open its own casino shortly.
“If Alegria does not want to be next to the Dunes Casino, it should not have bought the resort,” the attorney for Minister Arrindell, Aernout Kraaijeveld said. He brushed aside the distinction between hotel-based and stand-alone casinos as irrelevant.
Source: Today SXM Alegria Resort wants to put Dunes Casino out of business