The government of Samoa could reopen the bidding for a casino license after calling off negotiations with a Chinese developer who has landed in legal trouble in China.
China's Exhibitions Tourism Group had planned to build a 500-room hotel and casino in the tiny, cash-strapped South Pacific nation, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid and money sent home from citizens working overseas. The deal called for 15% of gaming revenue to be paid to the government on top of a fee of US$150,000, as well as open the way for direct flights from China to Samoa. But talks hit a snag when ETG boss Deng Hong came under investigation for corruption by Chinese Communist Party officials over land deals in mainland China, according to Chinese and Samoan media reports. The Samoan government withdrew the license earlier this month.
“We need to make a decision about whether we go back to market for the licence or whether we just continue on with one license given to a local firm,” Samoa Gambling Control Authority Chief Executive Robbie Kearney told Reuters.
The government authorized two licenses back in 2010, including one for local hotel operator Aggie Grey’s, as a way to help recover from a 2009 tsunami that wrought havoc with the island’s economy. Samoa was also hit by cyclone in 2012 and a drop in tourism in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. Its economy was worth $677 million in 2012.