[Samoa Observer] Will the casinos help Samoa?
Poor Samoa is already saddled with two casinos … so far. Their creation and licensing have created a lot of controversies: those in favour and those against.
Those in favour are all for it. They say it will improve the economy all around, create jobs, foreign exchange earnings, favour tourism, and related industries, etc, etc, all in one shot.
Those against it say all the evil things that will come with the running of the casinos, such as: crime, prostitution, drugs, money laundering, loan sharking, and corruption among others.
At the moment, the so-called gambling law is irreversible. I say irreversible but consider whatever is manmade can be unmade. Common sense will prevail in the long run.
Who is right and who is wrong; time will tell, say in the lapse of three years, we will see if all the goodies that the casinos bring will materialize. If you want to bet on it, be my guest. Let us remember that not all that shine is gold.
Just like in war, it does not matter who is right and who is wrong, it is who is left.
Prominent hotelier Mr. Grey says: Gambling is here to stay. In fact, he says, a lot of gambling is already going on: horse racing, church bingos, Samoan Lotto, raffles, two phone companies enticing the poor masses to gamble to get a wall to wall TV, and trips wherever you want to go, as long as you keep feeding that mobile gadget whether you use it or not.
So we say why don’t we top it up with a couple of casinos? Cancer, obesity, theft, corruption, is quite friendly with us, so why not gambling on top of that? Besides, people get rich overnight; all that is needed is luck and a lot of money, whether is honestly or dishonestly acquired. Who cares?
The only way to get a little fortune when you enter a casino is to step in with a big fortune. Nine out of ten Samoans if questioned on whether gambling is good will tell you it is not. Of course those that are going to benefit from the gambling will say yes. Greediness.
Let us take a closer look at what has been said.
Mr. Grey said: “The law is very clear on who and who cannot gamble.”
Fine, it is written in black and white. Wouldn’t you say the same thing who and who cannot gamble at the horse races or a church bingo, or lotto? Of course not. Every Samoan is free to gamble on them.
Besides it is their money, and no amount of government legislation is going to tell people how to spend or gamble with their money. Wouldn’t you agree with that Mr. Grey? By establishing a casino in your property you are gambling, aren’t you Mr. Grey? Just like Robert Lehman of the Lehman Brothers said: “The biggest risk sometimes is to take no risk at all.”
Nobody is going to tell me how to spend my money, except my wife, as long I don’t waste it. Make sense, doesn’t it?
What the law is saying is if you Samoans want to gamble, go somewhere else not in your country. But if you hit the jackpot, please invest it here, we need that cash badly.
For some strange reason, that law is targeting to milk the Chinese tourists. Gambling by any definition is a game of risk, and probabilities. The gambler whoever he/she is consciously wants to win and unconsciously want to lose.
But as we all know not everybody can win. The majority have to lose, that is why most of the gambling machines are rigged, no exceptions; go to Monte Carlo, Atlantic City, Macau, and Las Vegas.
All owners are not stupid wanting every Dick and Harry to win. Those who are too smart to want to lose and know the gambling tricks are sagaciously put them in the Black Book. They know too much, therefore it is against the casino police to let them win most of the time.
Now the big spenders, (here is a good example: Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia , brother of King Khaled, amused himself in September 1974 by trying to break the bank of Monte Carlo , but gave up after losing USD16 millions) those who lose for the heck of it, are because they want to, by supposedly having a good time.
Those suckers are rapidly spotted by the casino operators and are pampered to the limit. How? They are offered free luxurious suites at the hotel, free food, all they can drink he and his friends, even free call girls; as long as he gives a profit to the casino everything is fair. How do I know all this?
I used to be friendly with a Jewish millionaire. He explained to me at full length how he became a millionaire, to lose all in gambling, and then back as a millionaire, lost it again and back again, in the process he told me that he killed two people. So here you have a professional gambler and a criminal hand-in-hand.
A sucker is born every minute, said Pinneas T. Barnun, American showman. Moliere said: “A knowledgeable fool is a greater fool than an ignorant fool.”
Those who go to the casino and lose keep their mouth shot, but boy; if they win everybody have to know it. In gambling, nobody wins except the operators; otherwise where does it come from the personal jet, yacht, diamonds? From the fools that is there.
Would some knowledgeable lawyer tell me why Samoans couldn’t play at a casino in their own country? Why is blatantly discriminatory against Samoans, and not foreigners with or without criminal record? Can the government legislate when and where to use their money?
Until these simple questions are not answered to everybody’s satisfaction, I would say it is a blatant infringement of the individual right to dispose of his/her property as he or she see fit. The risk is upon them, not the government.
Can the Chinese tourist (who will come by the plane load, as the optimist say) have the choice of going to any hotel they please? Why hold them hostage in the hotel where the casino is located? Are they too naïve to go by that ridiculous rule? Since most of them are nou-veau riche perhaps they are also nou-veau naïve. If I were Chinese, I wouldn’t. Why wouldn’t they have the pleasure to enjoy our good fale resorts, and enjoy Samoa’s nature as it best rather to wake them up and line them up (passport and hotel receipt at hand and plenty of cash) to the casino tables at a pre arranged signal?
Since they came in masse they also go in masse everywhere. I notice that when in China. Of course they will be speaking Mandarin at the Chinese croupiers.
Here is what I like the most about this casino business. Our good old PM said: the casinos will bring “plenty of job opportunities” I know what an opportunity is, it is not a fact. If he could have said “the casinos will bring plenty of jobs, and I was told they will employ 100 to 200 Samoan youths in the beginning” that would sound more appetizing for the unemployed.
As much as we know, the Chinese are bringing their own people to operate the casinos, meaning the croupiers, managers and supervisors, even the bouncers will be full blooded Chinese. Not to mention the hostess and cashiers for the gamblers could not handle Samoan or English well enough to be comfortable with one of our girls.
I doubted that the Chinese would relinquish the sensitive jobs as cashier or croupiers. So most of the jobs available will be dead end, menial, unskilled jobs, at minimum wages, such as: bellboys, bellhops, janitors, waitresses and waiters, maintenance men, gardeners, dishwashers, porters, etc. since the owners have to maximize their earnings and lower their labour costs and send back the profits to the Big China Town.
What I don’t understand is the following closing remarks of the PM: “The benefits of the casino are not only limited to the district in which there are located, in fact, everyone will benefit.”
Easy to say but hard to substantiate it with fact and figures. Our unemployed people need to know how much tupe they are going to take home every two weeks.
In a 24/7 work day, it must be a graveyard shift; for those Sunday churchgoers they are going to miss their pastors and perhaps don’t go to heaven since they will be neglecting their church “obligations.”
By the way, according to a former Minister of Finance, the church takes one-million-tala every year out of the remittances in the form of church “obligations” and the like.
I also don’t understand what Mr. Grey said; “we have to prepare our people for the casino and make them aware of the pro of having them in Samoa”, how about the cons also. Also how does he know that there will not be any money laundering?
The crooks are so sophisticated nowadays that they can fool the WB, IMF, Wall Street, Lehman Brothers, and huge financial institutions worldwide, what is a single Chinese casino in little Samoa?
In hailing Mr. Grey the PM as a visionary deserving a gold medal for his vision. Let us take a closer look at the word visionary. My dictionary define visionary thus. Adj. 1. Given to or characterized by unreal or impractical ideas. Also daydreamer, unsubstantial, illusory, unfunded, chimerical, etc. take your pick. Hitler was and is a good example of a visionary.
It seems to me that the ETG, by building their five star and two asteroids hotel are going to be supplied with fruit and vegetables by the Chinese farmers at Nu’u at below the market price and thus not given “a fair go” at our local farmers, as per my good friend Moe Tamasese. Perhaps even the Tafaigata Chinese cabbage growers will take a cut at that and with their profit build another church there, so they can be sure a place in heavens is a sure shot. Who knows?
If we don’t keep our eyes wide open, very soon some “business men” are going to apply to open up a brothel here, under our very own noses. Perhaps under different conditions as the casinos. Let us keep our eyes peeled.
I am all for business and investment as long they are honest business and offer clean competition, no dirty tricks. I am also against exploitation and slavery of the work force in favour of the greediness of the big corporations.
That is why Americans firms were and are exporting manufacturing operations to countries were the labour is cheap like China, India, Malaysia, etc. Why is that just about everything we buy in Apia says “Made in China” even when marketed here is still cheap. Example a shirt made in Malaysia cost less than a Dollar and is sold at K Mart and Sears at 16 USD. Why? Cheap labour, big profits.
Now this is a true story. A friend of mine (now deceased) who travelled extensively in China for business told me that he visited places where peasant Chinese from distant village lodge. The Chinese owner rents in a huge hall chairs where the workers sleep and from there go to work day in and day out six days a week and a bowl of rice/noodles and send their earnings to their family at home. Greediness with no compassion.
Furthermore, is the Chinese going to respect the labour laws of this country?
Does the Ministry of Commerce have a say? To start with by declaring that they are going to work 24/7 have trashed the petition of the matai of the village to save Sunday. No way, have they said, it is in their power but they won’t do it.
Money first, church second. Just like Mr. Rodney Dangerfield said: “no respect.”
In a 24/7 schedule of work. Just suppose some Chinese at the hotel have trouble sleeping and they `decide to have a run at the poker table at 3.15 am, they headed to the casino, passport and hotel receipt at hand to show them to the bouncer. (a bouncer can be bribed, also I don’t believe in spot checks) Are they going to be greeted by the full staff ready to wait on them, serve them some drinks and some snacks? This not Las Vegas my friend this is tiny Samoa with a full swing of fa’asamoa 24/7 also. How about a respectable 9 am to 1 am gambling time?
To all those who have taken the time to read the above might think I am against businesses of any kind much on the contrary, I am all for it provided rational rules are applied. I am also against violence and human exploitation; and gambling is social violence.
One thing surprises me a lot is why only the PM argues about the goodness of bringing casinos here. How about the opinion of the Cabinet Ministers, are some of them for or against it? No new initiatives, or any breakthrough ideas come from them in the benefit of Samoa? Aren’t they supposed to bring the country out of its lethargy, for example in agriculture, health, education, job creation?
Now if poverty is prevalent for the majority due in part to unemployment and lack of massive investments, why don’t we create not only places of work but also places where the whole family can have fun and not being almost forced to attend church, whether they like it or not?
If we could cut the cost of funerals, remember there is a crematory now, for those who choose that way, where for 100 Tala you could bury your loved ones.
Remember NUS wants their money back to educate those who save and pay their dues.
The last paragraphs refer to the creation, around Samoa and in strategic places of recreational facilities, where whole families can take their loved ones to play, eat, sell and sing Samoan ballads, set up handicrafts shops, tourist attraction, of course, and even take a dip at a swimming pool.
For a small entrance fee it will be cheaper than to attend church and still ended up in heaven. Job creation? Exercise your imagination.
Even enterprising bus owners can move people to and from, etc. etc. One condition: in those places should not be any preaching, gambling, or alcohol.
A permanent fair ground perhaps? No experiment needed for this idea. I can assure you, it is a great seed idea, badly needed in Samoa. Samoans will go there for fun and clean profit.
Orlando Huaman is a freelance writer.