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Guyana moves forward with casino bill

12 January 2007

GUYANA – As reported by the Stabroek News: "The government last night forged ahead with plans for the controversial casino gambling bill despite a raft of challenges yesterday which included protests outside Parliament, a petition signed by 40,000 and an opposition motion seeking to have a study done on possible impacts.

"Debate on the opposition motion closed at about 10.50 pm when Prime Minister Sam Hinds took to the floor of the National Assembly to deny the claims that the government acted arrogantly and that it ignored the opinions of religious groups. He maintained that the government was respectful of the opinions of the religious community as well as other civic groups.

" However, he added that the government simply did not accept that it would be helpful to pursue the proposal for a study, since it might take more than three months and would in any case bring stakeholders to the same point.

" Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee presented the enabling bill entitled 'Gambling Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2006 to the National Assembly for the first reading to a full gallery that comprised mainly representatives of the Christian and Muslim communities which have publicly opposed the bill and are calling for its withdrawal and wider consultation.

"…Arguing that casino gambling was contributing to tourism and benefiting the economies of other Caribbean countries namely The Bahamas, Suriname and Belize, according to an Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report, Rohee said that in a four-page report on Guyana there was no mention of the contribution of tourism to the Guyana economy. As such he feels that casino gambling would contribute to the growth of the country's economy…"

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