Even without the required licence to operate a casino, Clifton Bacchus, owner of Sleepin International Hotel and Casino has gone ahead to outfit his Church Street, Georgetown operation with the necessary equipment.
The Gaming Authority rejected Bacchus’s first application for a casino licence, saying that the company, Sleepin International, was not financially sound.
The hotelier told Kaieteur News, recently, that he has already transferred several of the assets he has under the name of the company, so as to become compliant with what is required by the authority. He plans to reapply for the licence come Wednesday.
Bacchus said that he is confident that the permission to operate the casino will be granted, since “it is a fair process.”
Even though Sleepin International has been identified by forensic auditors as one of a group of hotels favoured for, among other things, massive tax concessions, Bacchus is claiming, “I was never treated in any special way by Go-Invest. I applied for concessions that were available for the hotel industry, and they were granted on merit. I got concessions from both the PPP and APNU-AFC Governments.”
Bacchus said that he is not worried about the government quashing the Memorandum of Understanding between Go-Invest and Sleepin that birthed the casino.
“They should see it as what it is. It is a great tourism investment. It will create jobs. It will have a serious trickle down benefit,” Bacchus said. He noted that the entire casino project has cost him in excess of $20M.
Asked about permissions, the businessman said that he received the go ahead from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to transport the casino equipment, which was sitting at the wharf, to his business place. “I had to put up $7M as a bond,” Bacchus said.
If the gaming authority were to refuse to give a casino licence to Sleepin International, Bacchus said he would have to ship all the equipment back out of the country, at his own expense.
“But I don’t think that will happen. We are going through the law very fine, because I don’t want to be rejected again,” Bacchus said.
Early last month, the then eight-month old Gaming Authority rejected Sleepin’s casino licence application, as one of its first decisions.
“The authority wishes to state that having received and thoroughly considered the application it unanimously found no evidence upon which it could arrive at a determination that Sleepin International Hotel & Casino Inc. qualifies for the issuance of the licenses applied for, having regard to its failure to provide the authority with documents evidencing its financial soundness and capability, one of the critical criteria for the granting of such licenses,” the statement said.
As the regulations stipulate, only three casino licences can be issued per region. This means that the country can only have 30 legally operated casinos at the same time.
Region Four already has the Princess Casino, operating at Providence, East Bank Demerara. The previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic had earmarked one of the casino licences for the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown. This left one more licence to be issued in the region.
Despite the reported bias that Sleepin allegedly benefitted from, the David Granger Led administration had announced that it will be managing all casino applications as new ones and would review applications case-by-case.
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