22 Aug 2012

Tahiti casino offer only until end of month

3:05 pm on 22 August 2012

A businessman in French Polynesia says his offer to take over the Sofitel Maeva Beach hotel in order to turn it into a casino only stands until the end of the month.

Franck Falletta's bid to buy the ailing hotel became public when Sofitel announced earlier this month that it was closing its Tahiti hotel at the end of November.

The offer has triggered a broad debate over the possible role of casinos in reviving the tourism sector, with both the President Oscar Temaru and the main churches opposing legalised gambling.

Mr Temaru also says he has been in talks with as yet unnamed Russian investors interested in buying the hotel but not planning to build a casino.

Mr Falletta has told Tahiti Infos that his project has US backers who have been in talks with Sofitel's parent company in Paris.

He says they will only wait until the end of August before committing to invest elsewhere.