Stick to bingo, P.M. rejects gambling law change call

By Sarafina Sanerivi 13 March 2017, 12:00AM

The law governing access by locals to the Casino should stay as it is.

That is the opinion of the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegoi, who believes there is no need to amend the law to allow locals to gamble.

Tuilaepa was responding to calls from several Members of Parliament for the government to consider changing the law to allow Samoan passport holders to access the facilities.

As of now, only foreign passport holders are allowed to enter the casino. 

But in Parliament last week, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell said the Committee and Board are already looking at the request from members of Parliament.

As the Totaliser Agency Board (T.A.B) has been given an extra 12 months to be in charge, Lautafi said this will give them time to consider the requests from fellow M.P’s. 

He also noted that such reviews were already being considered with the drafting of an amendment bill. 

But Tuilaepa begs to differ. 

He flatly rejected the requests saying the bills should stay as it is. 

Tuilaepa said locals, especially women, should stick to Bingo. 

“This is because if we allow locals to play Casino, no one might ever want to play Bingo anymore,” he said.

He said the main reason gambling was allowed and supported by former Members of Parliament when it was first discussed was because Samoan passport holders were banned.

 “You see, that was why a lot of people raised up their hands and supported the idea of having a Casino in Samoa. 

“The initial plan was to allow only those with international passports and foreigners to gamble. 

“And if we also have Samoans with international passports, then we can’t stop them if they want to play Casino. 

“We can’t protect them and restrict them from going. 

“They can go and use their passports to gamble. Those people can’t be cleansed anymore for they are already dirty (sinners because of gambling). We should just leave them alone and let them continue what they want to do.”

The Prime Minister said the main reason they restricted locals from playing is because it can cause a lot of problems for families in Samoa. 

“We want to protect our people from being affected,” he said. 

“Once they get addicted, the husband will just go to the Casino and spend all his pay at the Casino, leaving his wife and children to suffer. 

“We don’t want that to happen.”

Tuilaepa said Bills Committee will consider the requests and come up with the best thing to do. 

“But the bill we have now is clear that no Samoan passport holder can go and gamble, only those with international passports and foreigners.”

By Sarafina Sanerivi 13 March 2017, 12:00AM

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