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CEO claims no knowledge of casino

The Chief Executive Officer of the company behind the 600 acre land acquisition at Sasina, Savaii, is adamant that they had no inkling the government was planning to introduce casinos in Samoa when they started looking into their project.

In response to questions emailed to him by the Samoa Observer, Tupai Sina Jesse James, CEO of South Pacific Development Group, said: “No, we did not know.” “We started this project five years ago, long before the government gave any consideration to the Casino and Gaming Act.”

But reading their initial Internet offerings to would-be investors indicates that they had some idea of what the government was planning. The Government of Samoa is in the process of implementing a new gaming law. SPDG is optimistic that it will be granted one of the two gaming licenses that will be issued in Samoa (one license for each island).

Where appropriate, the company offers its input in assisting the government to formulate the new law and to develop rules and regulations for the casino operators, says the SPDG website.

In fact the company was so optimistic it would get the casino nod that it included a casino in its original plans. It even has plans to increase the proposed casino before it has actually been built.

In another question Samoa Observer asked, ‘It looks on your website that you are very confident that you will get the Savai’i casino license, is that because you have had assurances from government that you will get the license?’ “No, we have no assurances whatsoever of getting a gaming license.

We are in queue like everyone else. Confidence is not a bad thing to have,” replied James. James was also asked, “How much is your proposed development reliant on the casino license?” “None whatsoever. We went into this project without thoughts of a casino and will continue on with or without the license. Obviously, the license would be an added plus in attracting future tourists to Savai’i”. This sentiment was also echoed by Speaker La’auli Leuatea Polataivao yesterday.

“That is entirely something for government but we hope it would also be part of this project,” he said. Tupai Sina was also asked what the latest developments are on their search for investors. “As quoted in the Samoa Observer, we have our initial funding in place and are now looking for the best developer/construction partner.”

The following is taken from the SPDG not for investors on their website: