TV bingo “opening gateway to hell”

The decision to allow bingo games to be screened on national television is akin to “opening the gateway to hell.”

The comparison was made in Parliament by Palauli Sisifo’s M.P., Afoa Amituanai Mauli, when he spoke during the debate of the Supplementary budget for 2019-2020.

Afoa expressed concerns about exposing Samoa’s children to a form of gambling at such a young age, especially through a medium that is available in most homes.

He reminded that the Gambling Control Authority restricts gambling activities to people who are 21 years and older. However, with TV bingo being screened on national television, he said there is no guarantee that children are not watching it.

Afoa said he was so concerned about the matter he penned a letter to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell.

In the letter, Afoa said he cautioned the authority that the people behind TV bingo cannot monitor or guarantee children are not exposed to bingo.

The letter cautioned that the provision in the Gambling act had not been met and the Government should therefore reconsider the decision.

But before Afoa could continue to read the letter, Minister Lautafi intervened.

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He told Parliament he received the letter from the M.P. late in December but it was outdated and was written “two years ago”.

He said the M.P. concerns have come too little too late as the legislation had already been passed in previous years.

Lautafi maintained that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are not watching T.V. when the bingo is on air.

 “It is the responsibility of the parent – the ministries can’t go inside people’s home to make sure their children are asleep,” he said.

 “But the game is on air at 10 pm for an hour and it’s been aired at that time because by then children should already be in bed.”

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi also expressed similar sentiments and added he was not sure if Afoa was thinking straight.

The Prime Minister made the point that if the member insists on stopping TV bingo, then all kinds of bingo games, including the ones carried out by churches, should be banned.

He warned the member to think about what he is asking for as it could affect bingo being held by churches in his constituency.

When contacted for a comment, the Director of TV Bingo – Sinaupualofa Foundation Trust, Kuinimeri Tamati, said she did not want to reply to the comments from Afoa.

Parliament is continuing.

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