SleepIn International Hotel and Casino is asking the High Court to order the Guyana Gaming Authority (GGA) to process, consider and determine its application made on April 5, 2017 for a Casino Premises and Casino Operator’s Licence with all convenient speed. The hotel through a Fixed Date Application (FDA) says that it is three-star hotel offering luxury accommodation with operations at Lot 288-289 Church Street, Georgetown.
SleepIn International Hotel and Casino said that on February 4, 2015, it entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whereby the Government overtook, subject to the approval of the President, to facilitate according to the laws of Guyana, a Casino Operator’s Licence and Casino Premises Licences to it, provided that it constructs a minimum of 155 rooms at its hotel.
Pursuant to the arrangement, apart from constructing the rooms, the hotel stated that it also constructed two conference halls, a business centre, a pool, a gym, restaurants and a casino offering slot machines, live gaming machines and live entertainment at its hotel.
On August 2, 2016, the hotel made an application to the GGA for its Casino Operator’s and Casino Premises Licenses, and also paid $9M as an application fee.
The hotel stated that on November 3, 2016, it received a letter from the GGA informing that the company’s application for the licences has been refused. It added that on or about April 5, 2017, it made new applications for the licenses and specifically addressed the alleged deficiencies that were identified by the GGA in its later dated November 3, 2016.
According to the company, with its new application, it was required to pay another processing fee of $9,000,000 as required under the Gambling Prevention (Establishment of Gaming Authority) Regulations. GGA, the hotel said, wrote to it on August 3, 2017 informing that the company’s application were under “under active consideration” and requested that additional documents be submitted to aid in the process.
Among other things, Attorney Anil Nandall, representing the hotel, argues that to date, despite the passage of over one and a half years since the submission of all of the requisite documents and materials, the hotel has not been granted a Casino Operator’s Licence or a Casino Premises Licence.
In the consequence of the delay, Nandlall wrote to the GGA’s Chairman Roysdale Forde, enquiring of the reason for the delay.
The FDA pointed out that Forde informed the lawyer that the GGA is awaiting the completion of certain investigations being conducted by the Guyana Police Force in respect of the hotel and its principals.
But Nandall highlighted that neither the hotel nor its principals has ever been contacted by the police in relation to any investigation being conducted on its operations.
To clarify the issue, the hotel said that its lawyer wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Crime Chief, Commander of ‘A’ Division, the Minister of the National Security and the Chief Executive Officer of the GGA inquiring about the investigations. To date, there has been no response to the letter, the FDA points out.
The hotel says that its agents have made numerous visits to GGA to inquire of the status of the application, but on each occasions staffers were unable to offer an explanation or a status report on the applications. Nandlall contends that the GGA has a duty to issue the licenses to successful applicants in accordance with Section 29 of the Gambling Prevention Act, Chapter 9:02.
In the circumstances, the lawyer maintains that the delay of more than one and a half years since the submission of all of the requisite documents and materials by the hotel to accompany its applications for a Casino Operator’s Licence and a Casino Premises Licence is unreasonable, as it has satisfied all the legal requirements to be issued with same.
Nandlall is therefore asking the court to issue an Order or Writ of Mandamus directing the GGA to process, consider and determine the hotel’s application for the aforesaid licences. This FDA comes up for hearing on Wednesday, November 13, before Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln at the High Court in Demerara.
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