PNG legalises casinos, internet gambling

Papua New Guinea’s parliament has passed a gaming law allowing casinos and internet gambling in the Pacific nation.

The Gaming Control Bill 2007, introduced by Prime Minister Michael Somare on Tuesday, passed 61-0 in the last session of parliament before the general election in June.

But eight MPs, including Treasurer Rabbie Namaliu and Community Development Minister 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.

Somare told the House the new law contained 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 $ US35 million ($ A 42.38 million) five-star hotel and casino in Port Moresby, a project already approved by PNG‘s cabinet.

Somare said PNG could earn income from taxing PNG-based internet gaming for overseas clients „without being affected by the social ills gambling brings to the local population“.

Gaming machines are legal in PNG but illegal Asian-sourced „horse race gaming machines“ have proved a problem with several cases uncovered of senior police officers colluding with Asian businessmen to operate them.

The new law creates the National Gaming Control Board to control all forms of gaming activities and promote community awareness of problem gambling.

©AAP 2007