Government has given its approval to a new Gaming Authority of Guyana which convened its first official meeting on Tuesday. The members of the new Board include Roysdale Forde, who will serve as Chairman; Christine King; George Vaughn; and Geeta Chandan-Edmond.
The group during the meeting pledged to fulfil the mandate which has been assigned to them. They also committed to ensuring that their operations are conducted in a manner that is fair, transparent and which adheres to the laws, rules and regulations which govern the Authority.
The Gaming Authority of Guyana is a statutory body established under the Gambling Prevention Act of Guyana and is vested with the power to regulate Casino operations in the country. The new members will serve for a period of two years, with effect from March 1, 2016, to February 28, 2018.
The Authority was established in December 2008 under Section 32 (1) C of the Gaming Prevention Amendment Act, and is responsible for the issuance of licences under Section 32 of the Act; the monitoring of casino operations here; the administration of regulations made under the act and advising the Minister with respect to the administration of the regulations or any other relevant matter.
In February 2009, the Gaming Authority issued a premises licence to Georgetown Investment and Management Services Inc for the establishment of a casino and an operator’s licence to the former Princess Hotel Casino.
The Gambling Prevention Law amended in 2007 allows only registered guests of the hotel and overseas nationals to be patrons of the casino. There has over the years been widespread objection to the legislation from members of the religious community, who argued that there are serious societal ills connected with gambling.
It was said that having such a facility here could lead to economic ruin. The Act states that contravention or failure to comply with the regulations will result in conviction and could lead to fines of not less than G$1 million or more than G$20 million, and imprisonment for terms of not less than six months or more than two years.
The legislation allows for the issuance of casino premises licences to a new hotel or resort complex with a minimum of 150 rooms ideal for accommodation.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had said at the opening of the Princess Casino that while he was not in support of gambling, he believes that Guyanese need to be able to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of choice.