17 Dec 2003

Fiji Government flags away gaming machines amid siff opposition

4:42 pm on 17 December 2003

A Fiji Government Minister says the Cabinet has turned down a hotly debated proposal to introduce gaming machines in a bid to boost funding for sports.

The Fiji Rugby Union backs a plan that would see gaming machines installed at top resorts and hotels with about 8 million Fiji dollars in profits fed into sports in Fiji.

The Information Minister, Simione Kaitani, says sports funding is inadequate, but the Cabinet has rejected the proposal because of fierce opposition from churches and other groups.

"With the meagre income that Government receives and contributes to the sporting bodies themselves, gaming machine is actually a wonderful opportunity. But because of the social implication, I mean the negative implications that it has, given the pressures from the churches and the people, that is why the Cabinet decided not to go ahead with it."

Simione Kaitani says the issue split the country, but it may be considered again at a later date.