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By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 3) – The Fitial administration in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands signed last week a memorandum of agreement with Baltimore-based Cordish Company for a US$200 million casino and golf course project on Tinian.

Gov. Benigno Fitial said the agreement was signed Tuesday.

Cordish Company is the second casino agreement signed by the administration.

It earlier signed an agreement with Marianas Resort Development Co. Inc. (MRDC), which plans to build a US$170 million casino and golf course project on Tinian.

Fitial said Friday that MRDC will break ground on Tuesday.

Under the commonwealth’s casino law, Tinian can issue up to five casino licenses.

Right now, only one operator has the license, Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, which began its operations in 1998.

The Fitial administration said all five slots are essentially taken now.

Aside from MRDC and Cordish Company, the administration said it has found another company that could take the final casino license being granted by the Tinian Casino and Gaming Commission.

Last year, Bridge Investment Group received a conditional license to set up its proposed US$150 million to US$200 million hotel casino. The project includes the construction of a 300-room hotel casino, with 100 full suites and 200 junior suites, four full-service restaurants, a spa, wedding chapel, shopping arcade, and a convention facility that will accommodate 600 people.

The project also includes the construction of an 18-hole championship golf course, the first on the island of Tinian.

Construction of luxury bungalows and additional rooms at the hotel casino are also planned as expansion projects.

Meantime, Tinian Dynasty remains confident that it can compete with the new investors.

It said that it would also benefit from new investments as these enhance the island as a tourist destination.

[PIR editor’s note: Visitors to the island of Tinian dropped sharply last year after the pullout of prime carrier Japan Airlines. See story.]

April 3, 2006

Saipan Tribune

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