All forms of gambling in Samoa, except the state lottery, were considered illegal up until 2010. Upon the enactment of the Casino and Gambling Control Act in 2010, the Samoan government agreed to license casino houses for the next ten years.
Even after adopting new gambling legislation, a restriction was enforced on the number of licenses to be issued. Only two providers operating within a hotel-casino complex got the permit.
In 2017, a few political leaders tried to amend the gambling act to allow locals to play freely in land-based casinos. But the legislature rejected their proposal to protect citizens from gambling addiction.
Land-based casinos were licensed but heavily restricted, so it was not easy for the locals to gamble in such establishments. So, the available local casinos operating in hotel complexes and resorts target tourists visiting the island. Only foreign passport holders can access these casinos under the current law.
Gambling nowadays in Samoa
As of 2013, Samoa’s internet penetration rate stood at 15.2%, and legislators didn’t see the need to regulate internet gambling.
But between 2019 and 2020, the national internet usage skyrocketed to 66% after an additional 60,000 residents started accessing the web. The country is relatively small and doesn’t have the infrastructure to regulate internet usage and online betting activities among the residents.
Since 2020, new offline casino operators have been applying for gambling permits. The most prominent gambling house is in Apia, the capital city of Samoa.
That is where most players go to play table games and try their luck with slot machines. Neither poker nor sports betting is allowed in these gambling houses. There’s a passport check at the entry because the facilities cater to foreigners only.
Local punters, however, are allowed to play bingo and the lottos. There’s even a Samoa National Lotto that sells lottery tickets.
Other lotteries such as Tatslotto and Powerball are directly supervised and inspected by the state. Bingo has been so popular that a TV version of the game was introduced in 2017. But the gambling act enacted a minimum gambling age of 21 so that minors cannot participate in live bingo.