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Saipan Proposes to Allow Casino Games Like Baccarat

On January 5th, 2008, the Saipan Gambling proposal is bought before the House of Representatives for review. The legislative committee voted to not pass House Local Bill 15-78 as a local issue. The proposal now becomes a House proposal that needs the approval of the House and the Senate. The decision came after Tinian Rep. Edwin Aldan voiced concerns about the attempt of some Saipan legislators to manipulate the proposal's previous dismissal in the Senate.

As a local proposal, it would have become a binding law with just the approval of the twenty-one member Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation. But Aldan said that this was not permitted. According to the country's constitution any form of gaming may only be allowed by the Commonwealth law with the approval of the legislature or the initiative procedure. The voters in Saipan dismissed a casino proposal during the last referendum in the country.

The House then subsequently allowed a limited gaming proposal for Saipan but the Senate rejected it. The gaming bill that is now currently in the House also shares some similarities with the gaming proposal that was rejected by the Senate. The gaming bill proposes to allow Texas Holdem poker games together with blackjack and baccarat.

It would also give permission to video lottery machines. Under the proposal, these gambling activities may be only hosted at the La Fiesta shopping center in San Roque. The term is only for fifteen years or until the current lease ends. But the forty slot machines may be allowed for operation in any hotel or resort in the country that has 200 rooms or more. The gaming proposal also states that gaming activities proposed in the bill can produced a good source of income for the government.

Initial earnings are estimated at $40 million annually. The proposal also states that whatever earnings from the proposal will be allotted to cushion the impact of the closure of the garments industry and to ensure the continuous flow of cash to important government services.

The bill also proposed a yearly licensing fee of $1.5 million for the first thirty poker tables for each location, plus $50,000 on additional poker tables. Each location will host forty poker tables.


Thursday, January 17, 2008
Kate Foster

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