On Friday, the Tinian Casino Control Commission voted unanimously to approve applicants, Alter City Group Inc. (ACG), along with its shareholders, chairman Kin Ian Leong and managing director Ken Lin, for a conditional casino operator’s license for Plumeria Golf and Casino Resort on Nasarino Beach (Puntan Diablo).
The conditional approval includes ACG submitting to the commission within 120 days of receiving the casino license; all current financial statements, proof of a verifiable source of funding, which must coincide with the agreed upon date of development of operations for the casino. The investors must also provide specific documents requested by the commission to verify the financial standing of Leong and Lin. Failure to adequately respond to the latter will suspend the commission’s approval until the request is adequately satisfied by ACG.
The public hearing held at the Tinian Superior Court and casino license approval met with the full support of Tinian Mayor Joey San Nicolas, as well as Sen. President Francisco Borja (Ind-Tinian), and other Tinian leaders. San Nicolas said, Tinian has had to overcome many setbacks over the past year that culminated with the closure of its only casino, the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino. For the past 18 years tax revenues from the casino funded many of Tinian’s public programs, and the casino has provided jobs for local residents, he said.
Referring to the commission’s investigation findings, commissioner Lydia Barcinas expressed concern about “the lack of transparency regarding the sources of funds that are going to used for this project,” according to the Saipan Tribune. She said that the commission wasn’t provided with all of the information it needed including proof the Leong possessed the $150 million required to pay for the first phase of construction. In response, lawyer for ACG, Robert Torres, said the documents providing that information were available, but that they needed to be translated by a reputable accounting firm.
During public comments, Lucia Blanco-Maratita, former commission executive director, who was kicked off the commission a week before the hearing, stressed that all the money in the world coming into Tinian doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not properly implemented. Blanco-Maratita pointed out Tinian’s mistakes of the past with casino applicants getting license approval and not producing any money for the island.
According to ACG’s Plumeria Golf and Casino Resort senior vice president of gaming and business development, Albert Davis, the 150 hectares at at Puntan Diablo (Nasarino) in the Northern Marianas will be a “world class” facility with many amenities, among them 6,000 rooms, a theme park and luxury retail shops. Davis said in his presentation on Friday that they chose Tinian because of the safety factor that goes along with being the closest U.S. territory in Asia, and the belief that the gaming industry is on the cusp to boom.
The development of the property is worth $1.2 billion, according to Davis. The casino’s 265,000 square feet of gaming will spread over three floors, one for mass gaming, premium and VIP, with 250 slot machines and 100 gaming tables. Davis said ACG’s contribution over the next 25 years in business gross revenue tax (BGRT) would be $819 million, $145 million of that going to infrastructure development, $452 million from gaming taxes over 25 years, and $23 million in BGRT from gaming revenue. He said ACG’s main goal is to add jobs and they will look to partner with Northern Marianas Technical Institute and the Northern Marianas College for labor development.
The mission, he said, is to become a world class destination resort.