By ALISON ANIS
THE censorship board, Catholic bishops of PNG and the Solomon Islands and the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce have publicly condemned mobile phone lottery in the country.
Representatives of these organisations made known their views on Wednesday, calling for this form of gambling to be abolished, during a consultative meeting organised by PNG Lotto and the National Gaming Control Board.
Secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference in PNG and Solomon Islands Fr Victor Roche said: “I do not think Papua New Guinea needs mobile phone gambling right.
“Our concerns are for children and the ordinary people in the villages who already have a financial stress on their budgets.
“In order to make one person a million-kina rich, we will make thousand others poor.”
Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce president Ron Seddon said the announcement of mobile phone lottery in PNG came as a surprise.
He said while this form of gambling had been successfully launched in developed countries like Spain, United Kingdom, United States and China, no third world country had tried mobile phone lottery.
“People in developed nations have more control over their expenditure. In PNG, we do not have that.”
PNG chief censor Steven Mala said the National Censorship Board was concerned about children being exposed to gambling and did not believe the assurances from PNG Lotto and the gaming control board.
“I do not think they are 110% sure that this will work.
“Children nowadays are smart; so, what is the guarantee that children will not participate?” Mala asked.
Roche, speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops conference and Archbishop Francesco Panfillo, said while it was easy to say that parents should control their children, it was difficult to regulate children.
Seddon added: “I am a PNG citizen, and I do not want to see this continued any further.
“We will never stop children from going online.
“It is not the one person who wins a million kina; it is the five million people who lose K4.20 that they cannot afford.
“The government does not need the money. We have money, so let us stop mobile phone gambling,” Seddon said.
The chief censor said he was still not satisfied with the proposal and that the National Censorship Board’s concern was for Papua New Guinea’s overall population and how this would affect them.
“Our suggestion is that we stop this lottery thing and return to the old lotto using entry card manually,” Mala said.
The meeting was organised to collect views and feedbacks from the public following widespread opposition to mobile phone lottery, especially where children were concerned.