Mar 10, 2016 News
Amidst questions about casino licences, Government yesterday disclosed that members will soon be
appointed to a new Gaming Authority.
The authority is the body that regulates gaming in Guyana, including the fledging casino business.
Recently, the debate of casinos raised its head again after former magistrate, Kalam Juman-Yassin, complained about a casino going up at a new Sleep In hotel under construction on Church Street.
He said that it was located too close to a mosque and church and in a residential area.
However, Sleep In owner, Clifton Bacchus, does not see a problem. He said that there hasn’t been any objection to the Church Street casino.
Bacchus has an agreement with the previous administration for a casino licence once he built a hotel that had more than 150 rooms.
Over the weekend, Sheriff Street businessman, Omprakash ‘Buddy’ Shivraj, complained that he believed that a casino licence promised to him by the previous administration was instead given to Sleep In.
Under the laws, only three casinos are allowed in each region. There are 10 regions in Guyana.
For Region Four, the Georgetown Ramada Princess has one while another has been earmarked for the state-owned Marriott, in Kingston.
The one remaining licence, it appears, is in high demand.
Yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Raphael Trotman, questioned by the media during the post-Cabinet press briefing, made it clear that the agreements signed with regards the operations of casinos, by the former Government will be examined.
“As far as I am aware, only one casino license was granted by the previous Gaming Authority. That was for
the then Buddy’s International. I am not aware as to the term of that license or persons selling his or her interest in the hotel could pass as the new owner.”
“I am not saying none has been broken, but I am not aware about laws being broken in that regard because I am not sure about the terms and condition of the grant of that license.”
He noted that the Government that signed the Memorandum of Understanding (agreement) for the casino, is no longer in power.
“We will have to examine those documents. And Government will move soon to establish the Gaming Authority. That Gaming Authority under the law will have to consider applications. I don’t believe the MoU in itself is an application, but the Gaming Authority will have to objectively receive any applications made to it, rather than prejudicing its decision one way or another.”
He believes that the first step would be the Gaming Authority and the second for persons or companies who have an interest to make applications
Buddy’s International Hotel was built by Shivraj for the 2007 ICC World Cup Cricket. This hotel at Providence, East Bank of Demerara has since been renamed Ramada, Georgetown Princess after it was sold to a Turkish company that owns casinos around the world.
The Minister added that it was possible that in selling the holdings or shares in the hotel, the casino operating rights may have been sold to the new owners.
“I’m not aware of any laws being broken in that regard because I’m not too sure of the conditions for the granting of that licence.”
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