Acting Governor Ralph Torres signed Saipan’s casino bill into law, but used line-item veto power to return some provisions for, “additional legislative work.” House Bill 19-95 became Public Law 19-24 without granting Best Sunshine (Imperial Pacific) a non-refundable tax credit. Imperial Pacific recently noted over $1.6 billion in VIP roll for their first month of operations at their temporary casino and training center in Garapan. The governor was not convinced there was a good reason to grant tax relief to the operator who plans to invest over $7 billion on the island.
The governor also rejected another section of the law which would require the commission to receive approval of the legislature to revoke Best Sunshine’s license, calling the provision unconstitutional, and a ‘legislative veto’.
Torres said the bill accomplishes its central purpose however, and that is to appropriate funding for the Commonwealth Casino Commission so they can do their job of regulating the casino industry in the U.S. Territory.
The governor also signed Senate Bill 19-36, creating Public Law 19-23. The law excludes Saipan businesses but allows “business engaged in casino gambling activities conducted within its hotel-casino premises located in the senatorial districts of Tinian and Rota (to) [may] be eligible for a Qualifying Certificate.” Marianas Variety quotes Torres saying. This gives the operators on the less developed islands in the Commonwealth economic incentives to compete. The Tinian Dynasty Casino plans to reopen soon and Watanabe Masahiro, owner of the shuttered Rota Treasure Island Casino expressed interest earlier this year in resurrecting his enterprise there.
Another provision relating to 18-21 year old employees was rejected with guidance for a, “more appropriate age delineation to permit the service of alcohol beverages.”
Torres approved a section of the law raising commissioner’s salaries and allowing the commission to set fees to help fund operations.