30 Dec 2008

Academic says new Vanuatu casino less of a social threat as long as it targets tourists

1:45 pm on 30 December 2008

An academic says concerns about social problems being brought upon the local population by the opening of a new casino in Vanuatu'a capital may not come into play if the casino is aimed at the upscale market.

A boutique style casino linked to the global Jupiters brand is to be opened on Port Vila's waterfront in February.

Professor Peter Reuter from the University of Maryland, who has researched the impact of casinos on crime and other social patterns, says a common danger in opening casinos in poorer countries is locals are attracted to the lure of easy money but lose what few savings they have.

However he says as long as the new casino focusses on the tourist market, this problem can be mitigated.

"Have you designed a facility which really is aimed at the up-scale market? And that'd be one where there are more table games and fewer slot machines which are what the locals in any market probably want. If you want to make these facilities that really aim at the tourist market, then you keep the quotient of slot machines down."

Peter Reuter