CNMI GOVERNOR ENCOURAGED BY CASINO PROJECT

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Hopes $1 billion Tinian project will spur economy

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 3, 2009) - Governor Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy Inos yesterday said they would like to see Neo Gold Wings Paradise's proposed US$1 billion casino and resort project on Tinian materialize, citing needed investments in times of economic hardships.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the casino project is set for 3pm today, and Fitial will be one of the dignitaries attending.

Neo Gold Wings executives earlier touted the project as a US$300 million investment, but this week, they announced that the value has gone up to some US$1 billion. Fitial said the investors revised the project scope that warrants additional costs.

"It's what we need for the CNMI and as the governor, I really hope that the project will come to fruition," Fitial said hours after meeting with officials of Neo Gold Wings, along with Public Lands Secretary John Del Rosario, as the investors presented their new architectural and engineering design for the project.

Should the project materialize, it will be one of the biggest foreign investments in the CNMI, and is expected to revitalize the economy and create jobs.

In March, the Legislature approved on a 25-3 vote the lease agreement for a 300-hectare public land on Tinian for Neo Gold Wings' development project. The agreement calls for a 25-year lease, with an option of extending it for an additional term of 15 years.

Any lease of public land consisting of more than 5 hectares requires legislative approval.

Neo Gold Wings describes its project as a "six-star," 1,000-room mega hotel resort/golf course and casino.

Two other investors are interested in putting up a casino on, where so far, only Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino has been operating.

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