Companies seeking a license must invest a minimum of $1.5 billion and build a 2,000-room hotel

Jamaica has legalized casinos after a nearly yearlong debate that drew fierce opposition from religious groups.

Information Minister Daryl Vaz says the legislation allows the government to create a Casino Gaming Commission to grant licenses.

The island's deputy governor-general signed the bill this week because Gov. General Sir Patrick Allen was on vacation.

Allen is a former leader of a Seventh-Day Adventist Church and opposed the bill.

Jamaica currently has a few hundred slot machines at hotels in the capital of Kingston and tourist areas.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said that companies seeking a gambling license need to invest a minimum of $1.5 billion and build a hotel with at least 2,000 rooms.