There is a lot of speculation and comment in the public domain with regard to a proposed casino development project in Fiji.
I would like to make it very clear that as of today, the People’s Coalition Government has not considered or approved any policy guideline on the issuance of casino license.
As a background to the development of casino in Fiji, in 2011, the previous government issued an “Exclusive Gaming Licence” to One Hundred Sands Limited for 15 years. I believe, the company planned to build a Luxury Casino Resort and Convention Centre on Denarau Island.
In 2015, the previous Government revoked One Hundred Sands Limited’s licence due to breach of licence conditions and citing the failure of the company to complete the project and the opening of the casino on time. While One Hundred Sands applied for judicial review of the decision by Government, their application was dismissed by the High Court and thereafter by the Court of Appeal.
At the 2017/2018 National Budget announcement, the former Minister for Economy announced that an exclusive casino licence would be granted to FNPF in relation to its Conference Centre investment in Marriott Momi Bay. This did not eventuate and the COVID-19 pandemic put this project on the back burner.
The process of being granted a casino licence by the previous Government was as follows:
(i) an application for a Class 2 Gaming Licence made to the Attorney – General on the prescribed form;
(ii) payment of fees valued at 1% of the estimated annual gross turnover for that year as determined by the Attorney-General after consideration of FNPF’s submission in this regard, to accompany the application form;
(iii) annual fees of 1% of annual gross turnover earned from gaming proceeds from the second year of operations also applied;
(iv) the gaming licence fee may be waived or varied on reasonable grounds; and
(v) the casino licence will specify the period for which the licence is to be valid and such conditions as the Attorney-General thinks fit.
In April this year, Cabinet considered the proposal to issue a Casino License to FNPF and it was agreed that the decision be deferred and considered at a later date.
Before any further discussion on the matter, the Coalition Government will need to develop a clear and robust policy guideline on the issuance of Casino license in Fiji following comprehensive consultations with all stakeholders.
I wish to reiterate that until such time that happens, no casino license will be issued to any entity by the People’s Coalition Government.