Gaming Authority taken to court over failure to issue casino licence
The proprietor of Sleepin International Hotel and Casino Inc, Clifton Bacchus, has filed legal proceedings against the Gaming Authority after the company was not granted a Casino Operator’s Licence or a Casino Premises Licence by the agency even after the submission of all requisite documents and materials since 2016.
Legal documents seen by this newspaper revealed that Bacchus is asking the court to grant an order or writ of mandamus directing the authority to process, consider and determine in accordance with law, the applicant’s applications for a Casino Premises Licence and a Casino Operator’s Licence made on or about April 5, 2017, with all convenient speed; costs and such further or other orders that the Honorable Court may deem just.
These claims are being made on the grounds that the respondent (Gaming Authority) is a statutory corporation created under the Regulations to the Gambling Prevention Act, Chapter 79:02 and that is therefore tasked with the responsibility of issuing casino premises licences and casino operator’s licences in accordance with the Gambling Prevention Act and the Regulations made thereunder. This is together with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the businessman and the Government of Guyana, signed in 2015, which guarantees him a licence to operate a casino once he is able to complete construction in line with several specifications, including the construction of a minimum of one hundred and fifty-five (155) rooms at its hotel.
Further, it is stated that upon making an application for the licence, the company paid an application fee for the said licences in the sum of $9 million, which was refused to be granted three months after the application was made.
The documents also revealed that after almost two years since the required documents were submitted, the licence was not yet granted. According to the legal proceedings filed, Attorney-at-Law for the company, Anil Nandlall wrote to Chairman of the Gaming Authority, Roysdale Forde, enquiring as to why the issuing of the said licence was delayed.
In response, the Chairman pointed out that the agency is awaiting the completion of certain investigations being conducted by the Guyana Police Force in respect of the applicant and its principals, but according to the claims, Bacchus was never contacted in relation to such investigations.
In July of this year, the attorney sought clarity in the matter in a letter addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, but to date, no response was received.
Since the opening of the state-of-the-art casino, Bacchus disclosed plans to reapply for a licence in 2017 after he was denied permission in 2016 after failing to provide proof of “its financial soundness and capability,” which was critical for approval.
As such, the court hearings for the parties is set to commence on November 13 at the Demerara High Court.