The Republic of Fiji has granted its first-ever exclusive gaming license to locally-based One Hundred Sands Limited, clearing the way for the development of a 290 million, five-star luxury casino resort located on Denarau Island and a smaller gaming property in the capital city of Suva, according to published reports. Groundbreaking for the Denarau Island project is tentatively set for March.

“It is important with all new investment projects-both internal and international-that we protect the rights and interests of Fijians, and provide for the prosperity of our nation,” Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said at a news conference. “[This project] provides a malleable fusion between the Western ideals of casino gaming with the strong cultural virtues of tribal and community life. This fusion is what we seek... considering our own national pride in, and respect for the value of the unique, yet united cultures present among all Fijians.”

The first phase of development will include 190 luxury rooms and suites, three restaurants and a sports grille; the second phase will add a nightclub and other entertainment venues to the project. The resort will also include a casino with 500 slot machines and 54 table games, and a 1,500 seat convention centre with banquet and catering capabilities designed to accommodate corporate retreats and conventions, shows and sporting events.

It’s estimated that the project will create 800 permanent jobs for local residents and boost the inland nation’s tourism appeal.

“This undertaking is a union of both economic and cultural endeavors,” said Larry Claunch, chairman of the board for One Hundred Sands, a partnership between Claunch and U.S.-based Snoqualmie Tribe of Washington and Seventh Generation LLC. “One Hundred Sands has taken care to strategically partner with… Native American [entities] with demonstrated excellence establishing new casinos and affiliate entities around the world while maintaining the integrity of the environment, and supplementing-not supplanting-the existing economy.”