I refer to a letter written by Mr. Juman Yassin objecting to the construction of a casino on Church Street, Georgetown, between Albert and Oronoque Streets. I am the owner of that premises.
Firstly, I wish to make it clear that the buildings that are under construction are being lawfully done. These constructions started some four (4) years ago and it is quite strange that as they are approaching completion stage, that they have now caught Mr. Yassin’s attention. Mr. Yassin must know that hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in this project. Thus far, it has employed over fifty (50) Guyanese, daily, over the last four (4) years. This project also enjoys a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Government for the grant of certain facilities, including a casino’s license.
Mr. Yassin cleverly uses religion and children as the focus of his concern. In fact, it is the first time I have seen Mr. Yassin publicly expressing such deep concern for religion and children. Ironically, not a single other person or organization in Guyana has so far voiced any objection to this project, including those on whose behalf Mr. Yassin pretends to speak. On the contrary, I have received numerous congratulations and words of encouragement from thousands for investing in my country.
The first plank of Mr. Yassin’s objection is that the casino is located in a residential area, close to a church and a mosque and the North Road mall. This casino will be enclosed and its patrons will have no interaction with the church, the mosque or the mall. There are dozens of businesses located in that very residential area, but not a single of objection from Mr. Yassin. There is a gentleman’s club of exotic Brazilian and Columbian female entertainers with accommodation for related activities situated about seventy-five (75) feet north of the mosque. Again Mr. Yassin does not object. Is it because the owner his client or his relative or a person of his own ethnic group?
I must point out that the casino situated in the Ramada Princess Hotel is sandwiched between a mosque and a mandir and it is directly across from a church and a school. In the very building in which that casino is located, is perhaps Guyana’s best recreational facility for young children: It is called Fun City. I am unaware of any complaints from the mosque, the church or the mandir that the casino affects them. Certainly, Mr. Yassin never wrote in the newspaper objecting to that casino.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Yassin has failed to point to any scientific argument or evidence which would support his thinking that a casino will have a negative impact on children. Of course, children are not admitted in casinos. I do not think Mr. Yassin will forget his persistent efforts to sell me a building which he owned at King Street and North Road, opposite the World’s famous St. George’s Cathedral to house a hotel and bar. Apparently, the closeness to the church was not a bother to him then.
Suriname alone has twenty-five (25) casinos currently in operation. There are dozens in other Caricom States. Obviously, there are churches and religious institutions in these territories. The belief that casino operations are inimical to society is absolutely unsupported by any scientific or other evidence. In fact, casino operations contribute significantly to the economy by payment of taxes and provision of jobs, etc. In fact, this hotel and casino is expected to employ over three hundred (300) persons when it becomes operational and there are so many spin off benefits which will trickle down to the ordinary Guyanese.
I wish to remind Mr. Yassin that we both grew up with a close connection to the entertainment industry. My parents owned the Sheriff Night Club, Sheriff’s Street, Campbellville. When it started, it was a unique business for many reasons and my parents faced great challenges in the early days of the business, some twenty-five (25) years ago. However, they overcame those challenges. Similarly, I am told that Mr. Yassin’s mother had owned the famous Cambridge Hotel on Main Street, where he grew up, as I did at the Sheriff. I am sure that the Cambridge Hotel had its own challenges. Today, many have emulated these businesses.
I encourage Mr. Yassin to join me in investing in our country to create jobs for our people and assist in the development of our nation or at least, encourage, do not criticize, those who are doing so.