A noticeable increase in betting shops across the country has resulted in efforts to clamp down on unlicensed sites, in a bid to encourage responsible gambling.This was disclosed by Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon on Wednesday during a forum hosted at Herdmanston Lodge organised by the Gaming Authority – a regulatory body for casinos, lottery companies and betting agencies.Director General Joseph HarmonHarmon acknowledged that there has been a multiplication of these gaming outlets and admitted that the Authority will be pressured to ensure that all outlets are in compliance with the requisite licensing. Adding to that, some of these gaming establishments were established in communities which are suffering from socioeconomic constraints.“With our economy moving at the pace at which it is moving, I can only anticipate that it is going to be a tremendous pressure on the authority for licenses to open gaming establishments. What I have also seen that there is a proliferation of these betting shops all across Guyana. I trust that the Gaming Authority takes this responsibility of ensuring that these entities are properly regulated and that they operate within the confines of the laws of Guyana because they cannot escape notice that some of these operations are in some of the especially challenged communities of our country,” he stated.Chairman of the GamingAuthority, Roysdale FordeThe Director General insisted that operators and consumers of these establishments should be engaged on the negative impacts of betting and gaming sites. Adding to that, frameworks will provide additional support to ensure responsible gambling.“The Gaming Authority has a responsibility to ensure that the public and operators of gaming establishments are aware of not only the positive but also the negative impacts that gaming can have on an individual and our society in general. This is necessary so as to assist owners in appreciating the need for a systems and policies that will support responsible gaming and gambling.”Harmon insisted that the Authority is staffed with enough persons to warrant adherence to their standards. At present, there is much to be done.“In order to ensure responsible gambling in Guyana, all stakeholders within the gaming industry would have to accept their respective roles in upholding the agreed-upon principles and standards. I’m aware that much more needs to be done but I’m confident that we have the right personnel in place to do that job,” he said.Meanwhile, Chairman of the Gaming Authority’s Board, Roysdale Forde informed that there haven’t been any new applications for this year thus far. However, they continue to process those that were delivered prior.“We received no new licenses for this year. We’re processing applications that were made previously…The Gaming Authority, as a licensing and supervisory authority for gaming in Guyana is aware of the positive and negative effects of gambling and is also aware of the responsibility to bring awareness to all the stakeholders, both the operators and the public, and to put in place measures on agreed principles that would impact and ensure that there is a safe, fair and responsible gaming experience,” Forde stated.Last December, the former State Minister had positioned Government’s decision to better regulate gaming and betting, as it was concerned over “looseness” in the sector. As a consequence, new legislation was being looked into at the level of the Legal Affairs Ministry.Harmon was at the time being questioned about increases in allocations to the Gaming Authority, under Details of Subsidies and Contributions to Local Organisations, during the first day of scrutinising the budget 2019 estimates.The budget estimates show that the Authority’s budget went from $21 million in 2018 to $40 million in 2019. Acknowledging that funding has indeed been boosted for the Authority, Harmon cited examples of persons operating without licenses.