PALAU LAWMAKERS TO CONSIDER CASINO BILL

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Groundswell says no but revenues attractive

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR (Palau Horizon, August 31, 2009) - The Senate is ready to act on the measure permitting controlled gaming to attract high-end tourists to the country and establish the Palau Gaming Control Commission to supervise controlled gaming here.

The bill is facing opposition from various sectors, but lawmakers said it will expand the country’s economic base.

A casino will generate revenue and spur the development of additional industries, its proponents said.

A petition against the casino is currently being circulated and the council of chiefs expect a lot of people to sign it because gambling will "destroy families."

According to the bill, the Palau Gaming Commission will come up with gaming regulations and oversee gaming operations to ensure that they are transparent and safe.

Each casino business will pay a tax of 5 percent of its gross revenues while an annual casino license will cost US$200,000.

"The Olbiil Era Kelulau [the national legislature] finds that the creation of a gaming industry will not have a substantial negative impacts on Palau’s environment. Casino will not have a greater impact on the environment than other large hotels, nor will they pollute the air and water," the bill stated.

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