By DALE LUMA
CONSTRUCTION work on phase one of Papua New Guinea’s first Government-sanctioned casino is scheduled to start between September and October on Paga Hill in Downtown Port Moresby.
This follows an agreement signed between the National Gaming and Control Board (NGCB) and Paga Hill Development Company on Friday.
The cost involved in the first stage of construction is estimated to be at a minimum K150 million.
NGCB chairman Clemence Kanau said the casino was sanctioned by the Government in its NEC (National Executive Council) decision declaring Paga Hill a special economic zone.
“The Government has given its backing and green light for the project,” he added.
“We intend to progress most of the projects in the industry which includes casino as a form of gambling in this country.
“Casino is not new, casino gambling is an international gambling of chance and it is everywhere in the world where gaming industry exists.
“Ours is no exception and we want to get into that space and participate in the casino gaming industry. This is a start of many ambitious programmes the gaming board will undertake, casino being the first one.
“Next in line is lottery. We will be looking at legalising Bingo, online betting and the list of gaming in this country. We are regulators but we are now getting into the business of participating in the business of gaming,” he added.
Kanau said the casino would bring many benefits, such as direct and indirect employment of more than 10,000 jobs as well as attracting tourists thus bringing in foreign exchange.
NGCB chief executive officer Imelda Agon said it had taken eight years for the project to get underway which would give the country an avenue to bring in foreign exchange.
“It will create employment opportunities for the country, create Small Medium Enterprises opportunities. So we are excited,” she added.
Paga Hill Development Company chief executive officer Gudmundur Fridrikkson said the company would provide the land and funding to build the casino but had also agreed to work together with the gaming board which will have a “free carried equity”.
“They (NGCB) understand the legislation and the market and together we will go and identify the best international operator to run the casino, making sure that we tick all the boxes that provide quality services and is ethical and brings the biggest benefits to the investors and the Government,” he added.
By DALE LUMA