Beach Resort & Spa is set to open Samoa’s first casino next month with Aggie Grey’s Lagoon about to fulfil one of two casino licences awarded by the Samoan government who hopes the new venues will compete against casinos in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
The casino will be launched on Upolu, a tiny island in the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
As it looked to bring tourists back to Samoa following the devastating effects of the tsunami in 2009, the Samoan government approved the Casino and Gaming Control Act 2010. The casinos will only be open to foreign passport holders who are staying at the hotel casino complex. It also restricted the number of casino licences to two for the first ten years.
The original licence was issued last year to Chinese company Exhibition Tourism Group but it was later revoked due to concerns over the company’s Chairman Deng Hong who was being investigated in China over land deals.
The second casino licence was duly awarded to Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows in the main town of Apia with operations there set to begin next year. The casino there will have 24 gaming tables compared to 12 at the beach resort. Both casinos will have a variety of electronic gaming machines. A partnership between Australia’s Indo Pacific Gaming International and Hong Kong’s Gaming Concepts Group will manage the two casinos.
A mix of slot machines, with several jackpots, has been decided based on top performing brands in the New Zealand market. It is hoped that visitor numbers will be around 1,500 per day.
With the option of just adding a casino to its existing facilities, Aggie Greys has taken a year and a half to develop its offering. The casino at Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort, located close to Faleolo airport, will host 12 gaming tables and 85 slots whilst ETC is planning to build a 500-room hotel resort.Fanene Samau Etuale, Chairman of the Gambling Control Authority, revealed that seven companies submitted bids for a license.
A spokesperson for the Gambling Authority, Robbie Kearney, added the casinos would enhance Samoa’s economy and boost tourist figures and employment opportunities.
“We’re hopeful that the casinos can also then begin to put on shows, and then people can come and there will be other entertainment that’s available there as well,” he said. “So I don’t think that we are looking to become or have the evils of gambling consume the population, as some doomsayers seem to be indicating. We are looking to have quite a balanced integrated casino resort operation for both of the enterprises that are going to be licensed.”
Aggie Grey’s Lagoon was founded as the British Club in 1933 by Aggie Grey – the daughter of William Swann and his Samoan Bride Pele. During World War II it became popular with American servicemen stationed in Samoa and in the 50s guests included Gary Cooper and the cast and crew of Tales of the South Pacific, as well as Hollywood stars such as Marlon Brando, Raymond Burr, William Holden and Cheryl Ladd.
The casino will launch with a mix of Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and Poker, although Sic Bo is likely to be added before the end of the year.