Just as the Taiwan legislators have rejected licensing casinos, for the time being at least, news comes from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) that senators there have rejected a bill to allow gambling on Saipan, the main island. Instead they want to see Tinian, the third largest island that already has a licensed casino, promoted as a major casino destination.
The authorities in Saipan have been pushing for casinos or other gambling facilities in order to boost their economy. Last month local residents failed to approve the casino initiative even though on the neighbouring island of Rota the measure was passed. A bill was presented just one day following the ‘no’ vote, seeking to exempt Saipan from a ban on gambling and allow video lottery games, Texas Hold’em poker, blackjack and baccarat.
According to the Senate president, the bill was rejected because Saipan residents had voted against legalising a gaming industry and it would have jeopardised the Tinian economy. Saipan is now unlikely to be able to proceed with its plans for a gambling industry on the island. There are already investors on Tinian with projects to expand the casino industry from the present one hotel casino to the five permitted by law.
The increasing numbers of US military personnel stationed on nearby Guam are thought to be a potential source of tourists to Tinian, if the island can be developed as a destination resort. Two-thirds of public land on Tinian is leased to the US military. A greyhound racetrack operator on Guam has long been campaigning for casino legislation there, so far to no avail. On 5 January Guam residents will vote on an initiative to allow slot machines at the track, although a petition to the Supreme Court may still stop the ballot. (E-12.21.07)
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