Samoa casino licence could be up for grabs for other investors
The Samoa Gambling Control Authority says it may look for new expressions of interest for a casino licence, after it ended negotiations with a Chinese business group.The Chinese Exhibitions Tourism Group were planning to build a 500-room hotel with a casino in Samoa, but the Samoa Gambling Authority withdrew its casino licence.The ETG chairman, Deng Hong, is being investigated for corruption by Communist Party officials over land deals.The chief executive of the Samoa Gambling Authority, Robbie Kearney, told Leilani Momoisea that the detention of Mr Hong affected the groups ability to finalise the casino licence.ROBBIE KEARNEY: The exhibition tourism group were unable to furnish us with matters that are required to finalise the casino licence and there’s no certainty about when the matters affecting Mr Hong are going to be finalised. So to curtail the passage of time, it was decided by the GCA board that the licence that had been under negotiation, those negotiations have now come to an end. The GCSA board will, over the next couple of months, give consideration to what they’re going to do. So there’s one licence still issued to Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort Samoa Limited, and that casino will be under construction. And the works are due to conclude around November, December this year. So they’re looking at opening either late this year or very early next year. And those plans are fairly well developed. And the GSA board will need to give consideration as to whether we go back to market for the second licence, or whether we just continue on with one licence.LEILANI MOMOISEA: Does this close the door entirely for the ETG group to develop a casino in the country?ROBBIE KEARNEY: I don’t know that it closes the door. But they would need, certainly, to have the matters around their chairman resolved before we would even give consideration to any discussion with them. And if the board decides to go down to go down the process of going for expressions of interest and looking at the process again, then they’re not in a position it at that point in time, then the risk is that they may well not qualify further down the track.LEILANI MOMOISEA: And when do you expect to put the feelers out for other investments?ROBBIE KEARNEY: As I say, the GCA board will meet over the next couple of months and give consideration to the various options that are open to us. Some decisions will be made and we’ll make the appropriate announcements at the appropriate time.