With influx of hotels, more casino licenses to be issued; Gambling Act to be amended

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The government is currently laying the groundwork that could soon see the issuance of more casino licenses in the country.

But in order for this to happen, amendments will have to be made to the existing laws which currently cap the number of licenses to be granted.

It comes as the government has endorsed new hotel developments, many in and around the Capital, Georgetown.

On Tuesday, both Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and Attorney General Anil Nandlall signalled the government’s intention to amend existing legislation to ensure that more casinos can be established. Nandlall said the new piece of legislation will be styled as the Gaming Bill.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

According to the current Gambling Prevention Act, Guyana can only have three casinos.

But the government in 2021 entered into 12 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with hotel developers and apart from a 10-year tax holiday and concessions on machinery and equipment, a clause in that agreement states that should any of the hotels be constructed above 150 rooms with a four-star service, they can get a casino license.

Jagdeo said, “that is the standard regime for the country…there is no special treatment for anyone.”

President Dr Irfaan Ali is chairing a special committee looking into these hotels and casino developments; also on the committee are Jagdeo, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond, Head of the Guyana Office for Investment Peter Ramsaroop and other officials from other government agencies such as the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Jagdeo was asked for clarity on the hotel and casino investments and in response, he noted that the law will have to be amended to support the government’s vision in this regard.

Hours later, Nandlall during his ‘Issues in the News’ commentary on his Facebook page confirmed that the government will amend the laws to allow for an expansion of casinos in the country.

“Don’t worry, all you need to know, you will know at the appropriate time…you will get full and frank disclosure,” the Attorney General said.

In Guyana, the minimum gambling age is 18 years.

The first casino in Guyana — Guyana Princess Hotel and Casino — was established in 2010. The second casino — Sleepin Hotel and Carnival Casino — was established in 2016 but only opened its doors in December 2020 after a five-year delay in securing a license.

The Gaming Authority was launched on December 1, 2008, and is the Supervisory Authority for betting shops, casinos, and lotteries under the Anti-Money Laundering Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 and its Amendment.

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