The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for the last ten years has had one casino, the 5-star Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, According to some reports this development has still to recoup its investment, but this has not prevented other groups from pressing ahead with plans for other casino resorts. Residents on the island of Rota last year voted to allow an unlimited number of casino licences and the Municipal Council has so far received ten expressions of interest. People on the largest CNMI island, Saipan, voted against the casino initiative.
In Tinian the number of casino licences is limited to five, and four of these have been allocated. US-based Bridge Investment Group has started construction on the US$40+ million Tinian Oceanview Resort and Condominiums with a 310-room hotel and casino, but the development has been downgraded from a US$200 million investment. A Guam-based Korean company, Marianas Resort Development Corp, is still planning to invest US$300 million in two phases in a 1,000-room hotel, casino and golf course.
In September this year the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission granted another Korean company, Neo Goldwings Paradise, a conditional casino licence.
This company also plans a golf course and large hotel casino with a US$200 million budget that includes a water park and it has come to a provisional lease agreement with the Northern Marianas' government for about 300 hectares of public land on one of the main islands of Tinian. The lease term is for 25 years with possible 15-year extension.
It appears that the three new companies, as well as the already operating Tinian Dynasty, are hoping that the relocation of US Marines from Okinawa in Japan to the nearby island of Guam will boost the tourist industry in the CNMI. (E-11.10.08)
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