Samoa’s Council of Churches unhappy about casino

Samoa will have its first casino in six months after two licences have been granted, one to beach resort, Aggie Grey’s, and another to Chinese company ETG.

Reverend Maauga Motu, general secretary of Samoa’s National Council of Churches, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat less fortunate Samoans are likely to be hardest hit by the development of casinos.

“That’s always the end result of playing games like this at the casino, they will always lose,” he said. “Our concern is that the social life of the people will be spoilt.”

Tautua Samoa leader Palusalue Faapo 11 agrees with the National Council of Churches (NCC) that the casino will only bring about more crimes and problems not only within the communities but families.

A Pacific service for New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation is urging Samoa to start a similar service. The manager of Mapu Maia, Pesio Ah-Hone Siitia, warns of more problem gamblers in Samoan communities, whether they be tourists or locals holding foreign passports. She says the impact gambling addicts can have on those around them is devastating.

“We’ve seen people losing everything, people losing their homes, their relationships and we’ve seen people actually losing their businesses, and for a nation or for a community like Samoa, who is a developing nation, and who are solely reliant on low wages and also remittances from overseas, we can definitely see that the impact of problem gambling will be very high.”

Robbie Kearney, chief executive of Samoa’s Gambling Control Authority, says the casinos will create jobs for local people and attract tourism dollars to Samoa. “Once we’ve reached the limits of what we can supply from the local Samoan population then the conversation will go to whether they can get visas to allow people to come in and work,” he said. “But their commitment in the first instance is to employ locals if at all possible.”



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News category: Asia Pacific.

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