Gambling can ruin lives


SO a casino will finally come to town – through proper sanctions.
A previous attempt by a Korean contractor to build a casino hotel in Boroko, Port Moresby, ended in failure and the loss of millions of kina in landowner money.
Midway through the construction, there was no money to proceed with the project.
Police investigators are probing the alleged embezzlement of about K28 million with possible charges of fraud, forgery and theft by false pretence to be laid.
The project appeared doomed from the start as it had not obtained Government approval.
But this new casino hotel as well as other related developments planned for Paga Point in downtown Port Moresby has all necessary Government approval and what’s more, the regulator, the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has opted to be a partaker in this and future gaming business as well.
The casino is a part of the Paga Hill special economic zone which will feature allied businesses including hotels, entertainment and small to medium enterprise opportunities for Papua New Guineans.
The announcement of the Paga Hill casino was jointly made by Paga Hill Development Company and the NGCB last Friday.
Although casinos are commonplace in other parts of the world, this will be a first for PNG.
A modern casino is like an indoor amusement park for adults, with the vast majority of the entertainment coming from gambling.
According to online information, while musical shows, lighted fountains, shopping centres, lavish hotels and elaborate themes help draw in the guests, casinos would not exist without games of chance.
Slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno, baccarat and more provide the billions of dollars in profits raked in by American casinos every year.
An enormous amount of money changes hands at casinos every year.
While there are certainly big winners at the gaming tables every now and then, the only sure winner in a casino is the owner.
In 2005, commercial casinos in the United States had gross revenues of US$31.85 billion (about K111.75 billion).
The NGBC says following on from introducing casinos, they will next consider introducing lotteries as well as an option to legalise bingo and online betting as well.
From a purely money-making point of view, this is exciting news as it would diversify the gaming industry in the country and create a lot of business opportunities that do not exist today.
However, the obvious downside would be the impact of gambling on more people as they are drawn by the excitement of newer avenues to bet with the hope of making it big quickly.
Casinos in other parts of the world attract the rich and famous with disposable incomes to risk and feel the rush of excitement as they place bets in posh surroundings in the company of other well-to-do people.
A lot of Papua New Guinean gamblers can hardly fit the description of “rich and famous” but the urge to try a game of luck is just as strong for those who have the money to play with and those who hope to make it big.
In the end, it is all about chance.
While the NGCB stand to make more money for the Government, a diversified gaming industry would also multiply problems for individuals and households.
This is largely a liberal society so the advent of a diversified gaming industry, inclusive of casinos, has been on the horizon for some time.
While casinos are welcome, let us be mindful of the dangers of gambling too.

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