ROTA REJECTS CASINO ONCE AGAIN

By Agnes E. Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 3) – For the fourth time in 12 years, the voters of Rota rejected a local initiative that would have allowed the establishment of a casino industry on the island.

Unofficial results showed that only 669 were in favor of the casino initiative, way below the required two-thirds majority of at least 907 votes. The "no" votes numbered 480.

On Tinian, however, the proposed amendments to the island’s Casino Gaming Control Act of 1989 were ratified after they received 633 "yes" votes with only 139 voting "no."

Elliott Sattler, legal counsel for the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, said the amendments needed only two-thirds of the votes cast, and not two-thirds of the total registered voters. "So the vote (in favor of the initiative) clearly represented more than two-thirds of the votes cast," he said.

The proposed amendments to the Tinian casino initiative were also placed on the ballot in 1999 and were rejected by voters.

The proposed amendments included the reduction of the application fee imposed on applying investors from $200,000 to $5,000, and the reduction of the legal age for casino workers from 21 to 18.

Another amendment seeks to cut penalty fees for investors from 5 percent to 2 percent and to allow the gaming commission to waive penalties "in times of economic hardship."

Rota Mayor Benjamin T. Manglona said while all the political parties on the island initially agreed to push for the initiative, some groups decided to withdraw their support due to their political differences with the mayor.

Manglona said the constitutional provision requiring two-thirds of the total registered voters to support an initiative should be amended. He recommended changing the requirement to only two-thirds of the votes cast.

Still, the trend of votes since the Rota casino initiative was first put on the ballot in 1991 indicates an increasing support for the proposal.

In 1999, of the 1,293 registered voters, only 584 were in favor of the casino initiative.

Sen. Paul Manglona, R-Rota, yesterday said "it is probably time for (the island) to consider other options to bolster its economy."

In the elections for the Municipal Councils, incumbent Saipan councilors Gregorio V. Deleon Guerrero, who gained 4,416 votes, and David Aldan Indalecio, with 4,368 votes, were re-elected. Winning the third slot is Antonia Manibusan Tudela, who earned 4,439 votes.

Three candidates also ran unopposed on Tinian: Patrick Aquiningoc Manglona, with 663 votes; Edwin Palacios Aldan, with 650 votes; and Jude Untalan Hofschneider, with 646 votes.

On Rota, the winning candidates were Mametto Maratita Ayuyu, with 814 votes; Tom Glen A. Quitugua, with 684 votes; and Alexander Apatang Apatang, with 578 votes.

They defeated Rafaela Maratita, who gained only 439 votes, and Jeffrey Lizama Manglona, who got 403 votes.

November 3, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

 

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