Phone gambling gets Somare’s attention

National, Normal

MINISTER for Public Enterprises Arthur Somare is looking into concerns raised by church and women leaders that children could be exposed to and even take part in gambling by mobile phone.
Somare’s ministry covers the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB), which recently granted the licence to a company to launch the lotto by mobile phone, which promises a jackpot of K1 million.
“The minister is very concerned that children are exposed to, or are allowed to take part in this lotto,” a spokesman for the minister said after he spoke to him.
The spokesman said the minister was seeking clarifications from the board and management of the NGCB.
PNG laws prohibit children from gambling, or entering a gambling venue.
The NGCB has, in the past, strenuously opposed horse-racing machines, an illegal form of gambling and that more school children were getting into until the court ordered the removal of the machines.
Church and women leaders said children were just as exposed in this phone gambling as they were with horse race machines.
Yesterday, one of PNG’s leading evangelist and senior pastor for Tabernacle of Prayer Ministries Pr Joseph Walters condemned the government for allowing the mobile phone lottery.
“All that will come out from gambling is that we are going to create a lazy society of people.”
Speaking also as a parent, he said mobile phone systems were already causing damage to our children and people who used them for their lustful purposes.
“Internet can be accessed on mobile phones right there and people log onto pornography and other illicit images.”
Another community leader, former LLG councillor for Suai in Sinasina-Yongomugl electorate, Chimbu, Jeff Kilage said it was sad
that the NGCB had opened the doors to this form of gambling without assessing its impact, especially on families.
Kilage was the chairman of the Operation Rausim Horse Race Machine launched in 2003 to get rid of the horse race machines.
“I will not hesitate to launch another operation into stopping mobile phone lottery if nothing is done to stop this operation,” he said.
Mobile phone company Digicel PNG Ltd, when contacted, said the lottery was operated by PNG Lotto under licence from NGCB and all queries, with regard to the lottery, should be directed to PNG Lotto.
“Digicel is providing SMS services to PNG Lotto as it does to a number of corporate and individual customers but PNG Lotto is solely responsible for the lottery service,” the company said.