By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2013: The two casino licenses up for grabs have been awarded to Aggie Greys Beach Resort and Exhibition Tourism Group (ETC) from China.
Aggie Resort expected to start its casino within the six months with ETC to follow in the next two to three years, chairman of the Gambling Control Authority (GCA), Fanene Samau Etuale, told reporters.
Seven companies submitted bids for a casino license, Fanene said.
“One reason Aggie’s won one of the licenses is its successful history as a hotel operator since 1937,” he said.
The resort has contracted a casino management group in Macau to provide “professional management and supervision.”
Based in Chengdu China, ETG is known for tourism development through taking big tours around the world. “For that reason and the boost to the economy that that will bring, it was not difficult to award ETG the other license,” Fanene said.
The company is looking at leasing 500 acres of land in Samoa to build a 500-room hotel for is casino operation.
Under law, casinoes may only be run from hotels. Further, only holders of foreign passports who are guests of hotels may gamble in casinos.
The move to introduce casinos stirred widespread opposition, with the National Council of Churches (NCC) amongst those who objected. NCC predicted the crime rate will increase.
NCC Chairman Kasiano Leaupepe said there was good reason behind the church’s stand against the operation of any casino in the country.
“A casino is nothing but a devil’s weapon for degrading a human being,” said the NCC Chairman.
However, Fanene said differences over the issue have been resolved.