Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fiji: Suva Sin City Perhaps or Is it an Economic Spin?

Snoqualmie Tribe considering $260 million Fiji casino partnership


Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter

December 27, 2011 · 12:15 PM

For $1 million and some sharing of its expertise, the Snoqualmie Tribe could take part-ownership of a $290 million luxury resort and casino operation in Fiji.

The offer, from developer Larry Claunch's One Hundred Sands corporation, proposes a partnership with the tribe in developing a resort and casino on Denarau Island, on the west coast of Fiji, in early 2012, and possibly a second casino at Suva, on the southeast coast, to be built later.

It's an intriguing proposal, said Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson, for three reasons. One is that Claunch was recently awarded the country's first and only gambling license, giving him exclusive ownership of all gambling activities at the tourist destination.

"That steady stream of tourists presents a healthy market," Mattson said.

Also, "The tribe thinks it would be an excellent opportunity to assist and mentor another indigenous culture… as they get into operating a gaming facility in their country."

Finally, the timing was opportune. In July, Mattson said the tribal council had just finalized eight priorities for the coming year, and economic development through diversification was high on the list. Within a few months, Donald Sampson, executive director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, met with the Snoqualmie council to suggest the partnership with One Hundred Sands as an investment opportunity.

Having nurtured the Snoqualmie Casino through three years of economic recession since its opening in November, 2008, the tribe has valuable experience and expertise to share. The casino was not only the cheapest and biggest startup venture in tribal casinos in Washington, he said, but it also has never lost money.

"The tribe has never not paid its bills," Mattson said. Revenue from the casino has still not met the initial projections from the 2006 plans, and the tribe, banking on higher returns, was forced to eliminate its police force, and cut staff salaries by 20 percent, among other budget cuts in 2008 and 2009. However, by 2010, the casino had experienced 40 percent growth, and was taking market share from its competitors while overall gaming activity in the Puget Sound area has decreased. Further, it plans to start making per capita distributions of tribal profits to its membership in the coming year.

That experience alone could be extremely valuable to the Fiji casino, Mattson said. The tribe has also been asked for a $1 million investment, which he says "is very real money, but the risk-reward ratio seems reasonable.".......

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Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Staff Reporter Carol Ladwig at

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJan 3, 2012 08:21 AM
    The total investment for a destination resort casino in a developing country like Fiji should not exceed $5 million dollars. Since Mr. Claunch has received an exclusive gambling license there is no urgent need to throw $290 million dollars into this development. Casinos succeed based on two factors - "masses of asses" and a healthy pre-existing gambling market.

    In 2010 there were only 630,000 annual visitors to visit Fiji. The number of total travelers who land at the airport is quite a bit higher but those people do not leave the airport. Visitors are there for the topography which does not translate into the mass of gamblers necessary to support a profitable casino. Visitors go to Fiji to escape trappings of urban life which includes casinos. A very small percentage of visitors will travel around the world looking to spend their money at a near bankrupt casino on the Fiji islands.

    The other component missing in this investment is the lack of synergy with other local casinos. The reason Las Vegas thrives is based on a gamblers ability to leave one casino when they lose their money and simply walk next door. Fiji has no synergy and a destination resort of this size will be unable to contain their gambling visitors.

    I live a few minutes from the Snoqualmie Casino and I guarantee all money received from this tribe is clean as driven snow. However under no circumstances will a heavy investment in a foreign and seemingly unstable country survive. My advice to the Snoqualmie Tribe is - don't walk away from this opportunity but RUN as fast as you can!
    fijian-kiwigalJan 7, 2012 07:35 PM
    Thank you for this valued comments. It is an eye opening one too for that matter. It is obvious that this casino project dreamed up by this regime & its co-horts have not thought it through in detail. There is no evidence of what model it is citing. It is doomed to fail as you have clearly outlined. Visitors numbers to Fiji includes those transitting. Those that stay are as you rightfully said, there for holiday away from the happenings of a busy city life including casinos. Its anything to grab the interest of those silly enough to want to invest at such a time when Fiji has been declared a failed state. How their investment is going to pan out in the end is another story.
    AnonymousJan 10, 2012 08:30 AM
    If you have comments regarding the Fiji Island casino and want your voice heard by a major US newspaper send an email to:
    Thank you
    AnonymousJan 11, 2012 10:52 AM
    A Major US Newspaper Wants To Hear From You -

    If you have comments regarding the Fiji Island casino and want your voice heard by a major US newspaper send an email to:

    Thank you
    fijian-kiwigalJan 30, 2012 03:20 PM
    Thank you @ Anon. we have noted the email address given & will reponsd accordingly. We will also gauge recations and comments from our Luvei Viti Think Tank forum. Much appreciated.


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