The casino law of Saipan, specifically P.L. 18-56, could be amended soon if a new measure introduced by Representative Blas Jonathan Attao is approved. The measure was introduced as a way to amend the casino law and establish a Casino Gross Revenue Tax Account. Plans are also included for a CNMI Retiree Future Generation Pension Plan.
According to Attao, the P.L. 18-56 legislation only sees a segment of the licensing fee from casinos used to restore a 25% decrease in pension. Attao says the $15 million annual licensing fee paid by operators is not enough to cover the reduction in pension. This amount has been estimated at $17 million a year. Of the $15 million in fees, only $10 million goes towards the pension reduction problem.
The new measure, House Bill 20-28, is actually similar to a bill that the representative had introduced two years ago. The former measure would have removed $1 million for Saipan, based on current law, and $4 million allotted for Rota and Tinian. This time around, Attao is proposing that a Casino Gross Revenue Tax Account is created to provide $2 million for Tinian and Rota, each receiving that amount, as well as $1 million for Saipan each fiscal year.
The Marianas Variety reported that the bill states the annual exclusive casino fee of $15 million is a lump sum payment that is available for investment into the Settlement fund and used for the 25% pension payment. The money is also a resource that helps to assist the Trustee Ad Litem to avoid using the corpus which would affect the lifespan of the fund.
According to Attao, the corpus should be protected and retirees would be able to receive their pension and this money can then be invested into the economy, which will assist in growing the financial standing of the Commonwealth.