Concerns over Papua New Guinea casino agreement

The agreement to develop Papua New Guinea’s first casino has been met with condemnation by many groups, as reported by ABC.

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The multi-million dollar deal is currently a memorandum of understanding at this early stage, but is part of the larger, controversial Paga Hill Development in the capital Port Moresby. The new casino aims to target foreign tourists, as opposed to locals.

Mental health advocates and churches are two of the groups fronting the criticism, with Dr Uma Ambi, a leading mental health expert in the country, saying: “We must remember that compulsive and pathological gambling is highly associated with health issues. That is, work is affected due to the person sleeping less because some gambling activities take place in the late night.

“Number two, the gamblers cannot think anything other than gambling. So consequently, they become very irritable for concentration, and have induced depression and other mental health issues - major and minor mental health issues.”

But Clemence Kanau, Chairman of the National Gaming Control Board, said that such issues won’t affect locals, with the casino targeting foreign tourists, while the rate of employment will also increase as a result of the new facility.

“I see benefits enormously,” said Kanau. “If the casino comes on stream, we expect employment in this country, which is a problem at the moment - we have a very high unemployment rate. We expect a little bit of that ratio to be addressed in terms of employment opportunities.”

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