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Samoa issues two companies casino licenses

CASINOS IN MOTION - Two companies issued with Casino licenses
Sunday, 10 February 2013 10:19
Lanuola Tupufia
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[CASINO TALK: Robbie Kearney and Chairman Fanene Samau Sefo.]

CASINO TALK: Robbie Kearney and Chairman Fanene Samau Sefo.
It’s official. A Chinese company is one of two companies the Government has issued with licenses to operate casinos in Samoa.

During a press conference yesterday evening, Chairman of the Gambling Control Authority Board, Fanene Samau Sefo revealed that the Chengdu Exhibition and Tourism Group (ETG) from China and Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort at Mulifanua have been granted “conditional licenses.”

According to the Government, the Chinese group is proposing to build a “substantial hotel” at an undisclosed location in Upolu where the Casino will be located. ETG is also looking at direct flights from China to Faleolo, which promises to attract a multitude of tourists to Samoa.

“There were seven companies that showed interest,” said Fanene. Three of them submitted detailed proposals including an outfit called Pacific Island Management of the United States.

“We have assessed the companies and concluded that they have met the requirements placed upon them in line with the Casino and Gambling Control Act (2010).”

According to Fanene, ETG is in the process of buying land at a village he did not disclose.

They are scheduled to begin work in June, he said. Asked who the owner of the company was and who their local contact person is, the Chairman said he was not aware of it.

“I am not sure because the company is a big private one but they had a delegation that came and we have had meetings with them and kept in contact via email.”

So how do we know if the company is credible and trust worthy? The Chairman assured that “a due diligence assessment was done to make sure they are not in any financial problems.

He added: “The private company has been in business for a very long time and we have assessed their accounts. One of the requirements for the license holders is that they need to be clean in terms of their financial accounts.”

Secretary of the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) and the Gambling Control Authority, Oloipola Terrence Betham said thecasinos being set up in Samoa are not the same as the ones in other countries.

“The law clearly defines that only those who hold foreign passports and are registered in a hotel are allowed to play in the casino,” he said. “That is different from other casinos around the world where anyone can go into and play.Here, we forbid people with Samoa passports, the locals.”

The Casino Project Consultant, Robbie Kearney said ETG and Aggie’s were chosen because they have proven track records in the tourism industry.

“The casino operation tends to come as another offering that is available at the resort,” he said. “So you can go sailing, go swimming snorkeling or casino and other activities.It’s not like a gambling thing that locks people away for three days and then they leave.”

Asked about ETG’s proposal,Mr. Kearney said ETG’s proposal included a number of initiatives. Among them is the possibility of direct flights to Samoa as well as the construction of a massive hotel property.

“From an overseas perspective, I think it has a great potential mainly because ETG will be bringing guests that otherwise wouldn’t have come to Samoa.”

Mr. Kearney also pointed out that the Chinese company is interested in assisting the local economy.

“Their aim is to spread the money those people bring in to the country through various entertainments and tourism opportunities existing but not just building a mini China outside of China.”



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