1 Feb 2017

Tongan casino proposal still waiting for go-ahead

7:44 am on 1 February 2017

The Tongan company behind a proposed gaming resort is not giving up on gaining government approval despite legal obstacles and public outcry.

'Epeli Taione is a director of Tavake Tamafua which has submitted a proposal for a $US400 million tourism development that would include an airport hotel, shopping mall, luxury villas and a casino .

But the government has stated that gambling in Tonga is illegal.

Mr Taione said Tavake Tamafua and its foreign backers, Red Warrior Entertainment , were looking for a compromise to get the development up and running.

"We just look over across the Pacific ocean to Samoa and what they have done. You know it can be managed. It's well controlled. We have aligned what we are trying to do with that of Samoa," he said.

"Even if there is something like that, there will be no Tongan passport holders that will be allowed in so we are well protected. But the main thing is to look at ways to kickstart our economy."

Tonga Rugby Chair Epeli Taione at a Rugby World Cup 2015 event.

'Epeli Taione Photo: Photosport

'Epeli Taione said Tonga's economy was in dire shape and needed capital investment as soon as possible.

Mr Taione said his company, investors and the government would meet again next month.