Posted on: January 4, 2024, 10:55h.
Last updated on: January 4, 2024, 10:55h.
Macau junket groups that had brought high rollers from mainland China continue to seek more favorable operating climates after Beijing in recent years cracked down on their VIP touring operations. One such group — the David Group — is seeking to relocate to the Fiji islands.
The David Group was a major junket firm doing business in Macau until recently. The group led by businessman Sandeep Singh is working with the Fiji government in pitching the South Pacific island country a FJ$2 billion (US$900 million) casino resort.
Fiji legalized certain forms of gambling in 2009. The law allows people to participate in community and charitable card games and to participate in online casino gambling. The 2009 Gaming Act also authorized brick-and-mortar casinos, though no licensed gambling facility has opened.
That could soon change should Singh and his David Group win over support for the resort project. The Fiji Times reports that the initial blueprint calls for a two-phased construction plan, with the first leg to include an approximate investment of $450 million to build a standalone casino and 1,000-room luxury hotel.
A second phase of roughly a similar investment would bring an amusement park, entertainment venue, and luxury residential subdivision to the destination.
Prime Minister Open to Project
Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is reportedly receptive of the country issuing its first commercial resort casino license. But he says the concession won’t be approved until many more details are solidified.
Those details primarily rest with the government and how it might regulate a casino. Currently, Fiji does not have a designated regulatory agency to oversee casino gambling.
This has to be treated very cautiously taking into account all stakeholders’ interest, particularly the social stakeholders in Fiji,” Rabuka said. “It was agreed that a decision was to be deferred and considered at a later date.”
Singh says his David Group is willing to wait until the government gets its house in order. He says regulatory conditions must first be disclosed before his firm might acquire property to build the resort.
Singh hinted that the casino could be built in Southern Denarau or in Nadi’s Wailoaloa Beach.
Singh said during his media unveiling of his casino prospect that a resort destination inclusive of gambling would provide an added reason for leisure travelers to visit Fiji.
A casino would provide the opportunity to diversify the Fijian tourism sector and entice more tourists from China,” Singh said. “It also satisfies a need to increase the capacity and scope of the tourism industry in Fiji.”
Fiji’s economy is one of the most developed among the Pacific islands, but it’s still a developing country. Fiji is rich in natural resources, including forests, minerals, and fish. Sugar is also a major export. And yes, Fiji Water comes from Fiji.
Tourism is also a major economic generator. Visitation to the islands has continued to expand since air travel became a more common form of transportation after World War II.
Fiji’s visitation has already recovered from the pandemic and exceeded 2019 numbers last year. Australia and New Zealand account for about seven in 10 visitors. There are over 420 licensed places of accommodation with over 12,000 guestrooms.