“Gambling on Melbourne Cup and Mah Jong: what is legal and illegal?” Fiji Sun 3 Nov. 2013
The next few days will see a frenzy of advertising on the Fiji media relating to gambling on that great Australian cultural icon, the horse-racing for the Melbourne Cup, which allegedly “stops a nation”.
At the Holiday Inn, there will be colorful contraptions on women’s heads, while a large percentage of mostly upper class women and men will get merrily sloshed, adding millions to bookies’ bank balances and FRCA revenues.
This is all apparently legal.
In contrast, if a few Chinese farmers get together after a tough week in their fields, and gamble a few dollars on their great Chinese cultural icon, mah jong, they are hauled off by the Fiji Police Force for illegal gambling, while their money is confiscated as evidence (usually never to be seen again).
This issue was raised publicly more than a decade ago, with no action by the authorities:
Can those who are trigger-happy at issuing decrees, explain why an Australian gambling cultural icon (the Melbourne Cup) is legal in Fiji, while the Chinese gambling cultural icon (Mah Jong) is still deemed illegal?
Is this yet another hangover of the racist old British colonial laws against Chinese?
Professor Wadan Narsey