TINIAN GAMING COMMISSION VOWS TO WORK WITH LAWMAKERS IN STRENGTHENING CASINO

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INDUSTRY

By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (January 11, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---The Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission will work closely with the 12th CNMI Legislature in seeking new investors for the development of the casino industry on the island, according to TCGCC Vice Chair Martin DLG San Nicolas.

However, the biggest challenge in luring new investors will be combating the negative publicity associated with the commission.

"Only when we have gotten back the people's confidence that we would be able to reconstruct our public image," Nicolas said. "This should also be our objective before we can get businesses to give us a second look."

He noted that in order to strengthen Tinian’s business environment, the infrastructure must be improved and the number of airline seats bringing Asian tourists into Tinian must be increased.

San Nicolas said the image of the commission has been badly shattered by the recent indictment of former TCGCC Executive Director Paul Palmer. Palmer allegedly swindled the gaming commission and an Australian company by creating fictitious companies to maintain bank accounts in the Philippines and Nevada.

Palmer was charged with nine counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen properties. He was indicted on August 5, 1999, but the case has been sealed pending his arrest.

San Nicolas said TCGCC made a big mistake by giving Palmer too much power. He said there is a strong commitment by the commission not to repeat that mistake.

Palmer was last seen during a 1997 Senate Committee hearing investigating his illegal disbursement of funds. An FBI report revealed that Palmer "did devise a scheme and plan to defraud TCGCC and its casino license applicants...to enrich himself."

The Commission is still awaiting the results and recommendations of the investigation conducted by the Office of the Public Auditor. San Nicolas said this would help the commission make necessary policies to carry out programs.

Funding for the operation of TCGCC comes from the monthly tax payment of Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino amounting to $200,000.

While TCGCC and the Legislative leaders have supported Tinian Dynasty in acquiring more tax incentives for the only hotel casino on the island-municipality, San Nicolas said management must also hire a more competent staff that can help generate the needed revenue.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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