Foxwoods to Launch First Caribbean Casino
By Joe Pike, Special Contributor to CJI
Foxwoods El San Juan Casino, representing Foxwoods Resort Casino’s debut in the Caribbean, will have a soft opening later this fall in Puerto Rico, with a grand opening set for early 2022, said Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation chairman.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is a federally recognized American Indian tribe in the state of Connecticut. The casino, located in the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, also marks Foxwoods first move outside of the mainland United States.
“When Foxwoods El San Juan opens its doors, guests will be able to experience an array of the newest slot machines and table games as well as first-class service that complements the resort’s well-appointed luxury accommodations and amenities,” Butler told Caribbean Journal invest (CJI).
CJI was virtually on hand for a press conference held back in January at the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel when it was announced that the renowned hotel’s casino will receive a multi-million dollar renovation before rebranding as the Foxwoods El San Juan Casino.
“Our intent when revitalizing this property was to maintain the rich history and culture of the venue while ushering in a new and exciting future with Foxwoods El San Juan Casino,” said Butler. “We truly believe the casino’s new identity beautifully pays homage to the casino’s legendary past – as well as the feel of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, one of the strongest casino brands in the world.”
Andre Nodarse-Leon, co-owner of the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel and founder and CEO of LionGrove, said earlier this year that about $125 million had already been invested in renovations to the hotel stemming back to 2015, along with another $15 million that was invested this year.
Those additional renovations include practically doubling the size of the current casino floor and also reopening a nearby entertainment venue.
Butler said Foxwoods would be an “economic driver,” and, in addition to other investments Nodarse-Leon said Puerto Rico is making, will help generate about $22 million back to the island.
“Puerto Rico was an easy choice for us – not only is the island stunningly beautiful, but we had an unparalleled opportunity to partner with LionGrove to help reinvigorate a wonderful gaming facility that meant so much to so many,” said Butler.
Butler said the new project will also create about 360 new jobs, roughly 150 of which will be casino-related occupations.
“Pairing the Tribe’s expertise with the rich local market experience between LionGrove and Fairmont, two strong and experienced hospitality leaders, together we knew we could deliver a new offering the residents of Puerto Rico and tourists will admire and enjoy,” said Butler.
So, can we expect a sports book when the casino opens its doors?
“Although there are no plans to open a retail sportsbook at this time,” said Butler, “we do hope to offer sports betting to our Foxwoods El San Juan guests – pending regulatory approval.”
And as far as other Caribbean expansions go, Butler told CJI Foxwoods is focusing on its Puerto Rico property for now.
“At this time, we’re focused on opening Foxwoods El San Juan Casino,” said Butler, “and remain committed to being a valuable economic driver for Puerto Rico.”