Potential Social Problems Cause Issue with New Guinea Casino
Fear of potential social problems have led to criticism regarding a casino in New Guinea.
Whenever a casino is in the works in a new area, there will always be critics of the installation. Gambling opponents often come out left and right when a plan is in place to create a casino, which can lead to delays in project plans. In Papua New Guinea, there is a plan to create the region’s first casino in Port Moresby. The plans have now been criticized due to experts and transparency advocates worrying the plan will cause major social problems.
The Casino Plans
In late May, the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and Paga Hill Development Corporation signed an agreement to spend $43 million on a casino project in New Guinea. Immediately after the deal was signed, criticism began from Transparency International.
Peter Aitsi, the board chair for Transparency International PNG, stated that the NGCB is the referee when it comes to applying for rules of the game and they should not be acting as a player on the field. Basically, because the Board is in charge of overseeing the industry, they should not be signing deals for casino projects.
According to Aitsi, it has been proven that globally, when a regulator is compromised or weak, it leads to money laundering activity and undue political influence. Those in favor of the project say otherwise. Chief operating officer of Paga Hill, George Hallit, came to the defense of the plans, stating that the casino will be a job builder in the community.
The project will include shopping malls, a hotel, and cinemas. Tourists will be attracted to the area which will only further strengthen the economy. Right now, around one-third of the visits to Papua New Guinea are due to tourism. This project would only lead to more potential visitors due to the new attractions.
Can Papua New Guinea Handle Potential Issues?
Any new gambling industry will have to deal with potential issues including problem gambling. Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker stated that the region does not have the legal or monetary infrastructure to deal with issues connected to the industry.
The social impact of gambling can result in gambling problems with individuals spending limited income in the hopes of winning. However, the individual is left with debt. Those with a gambling problem can have issues paying bills or even feeding their family members. People can lose their jobs which leads to the need for assistance.
According to Barker, in Australia, the region has rules in place along with the capability to manage the industry. The social welfare system and education options are strong and yet, Australia still has to deal with high levels of gambling addiction. The region has been subject to damage on an economic, family, and social level due to gambling issues.
For Papua New Guinea, the region does not have anything in place like Australia to try and deal with the situation. With a major casino in place, the situation could be dire for some. Barker pointed out that with the NGCB involved as an investor in the project it is improper and not the way an industry needs to be set up to succeed.
The Catholic church has also come forward, showing opposition to the casino plans. Leaders have stated that money is being spent in the wrong way, with the elite and privileged to benefit while settlements and villages have children playing in the mud or in the streets.
The NGCB has not responded to comments requested on the matter of the casino plans. In previous statements, the board has said that they are the forefront of compliance and requirements and look forward to seeing a boost to the economy post COVID-19.