2 May 2007

PNG parliament gives the green light to casinos

1:30 pm on 2 May 2007

Papua New Guinea's parliament has passed a gaming law allowing casinos and internet gambling.

The Gaming Control Bill, introduced by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, yesterday passed with 61 votes and none against, in the last session of parliament before the general election in June.

But eight MPs, including Treasurer Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu, walked from the chamber before the vote.

Churches and women's groups in PNG are likely to lead opposition to the new law.

Sir Michael told parliament that the new law contains provisions to keep out criminal exploitation and impose strict entry requirements, including hefty refundable casino entry fees, to discourage Papua New Guineans from gambling.

Under the new law, each of PNG's provinces can have one casino licence for 10 years.

Casino operators will be required to pay a duty of 20 per cent of gross profit and a community benefit gaming levy of five per cent of gross profit.

The new law paves the way for a Korean consortium to build a 35 million US dollar five-star hotel and casino in Port Moresby, a project which has already been approved by PNG's cabinet.