GAMBLING MACHINES RAISE CONCERN IN PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 5) – Papua New Guinea Minister for Inter-Government Relations Peter Barter is concerned about unconfirmed reports that horse-racing machines have been installed in Madang.

Sir Peter, who is the regional MP for Madang, said the machines are "evil machines" and should not be allowed into the province.

The Minister said people should be aware that the Somare government has already banned the use and importation of horse racing machines in Papua New Guinea.

"The Government has good reasons for acting. Horse racing machines were causing a great deal of harm to the community. Young children were enticed into gambling lounges and away from school. No taxes paid to the government," Sir Peter said in a statement.

Acting on the wishes of the churches and Council of Women, the Madang Provincial Government had banned poker machines in Madang.

But "unscrupulous or ignorant - but certainly greedy businessmen" were now importing these horse machines into Madang province, he said.

He called on the provincial government and police to take quick action to safeguard children and to stop breaches of the law.

The horse racing machines are not unlike poker machines and the ban should cover these evil machines, Sir Peter said.

Meanwhile, parents in the nation’s capital are complaining that new horse machines are popping up everywhere in the city, including in residential areas, and are asking why no action is being taken to stop them.

"The NEC has declared these machines illegal. The NCDC has outlawed them. Why isn’t anybody, including the police doing anything to remove these machines," a concerned parent said.

He said he was saddened to see "school aged children and strong, able young men" making themselves useless everyday by standing around these sites and machines hoping for a windfall from 20 toea.

"The owners of these machines don’t care that they are transforming our children and young people into gambling parasites. All they care about is to count their profit at the end of the day, tax free," the parent said.

The National Capital District Commission (NCDC), which issued the licence for these machines in the first place now wants them removed and is locked in a court battle with owners of the machines.

There is an injunction preventing NCDC from taking any action to remove the machines while the case is pending.

January 5, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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