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Senate wants $200,000 annual fee on operators

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Nov. 9, 2009) - Palau Senate and the House conferees are again at deadlock over a proposed casino bill.

The Senate earlier passed the controversial measure which permits controlled gaming to attract high end tourists to the country.

The measure allows controlled gaming in the Republic of Palau as a means to diversify the Republic’s tourism base and to attract investment and new revenues for Palau.

Since gambling is a controversial issue among the Palauan citizens, the bill contains provisions to protect the people of Palau from the dangers of compulsive and addictive gambling but at the same time the new measure will bring in new revenues for Palau.

The OEK said that a properly regulated gaming industry will expand Palau’s economic base first by creating a more diverse experience for visitors who have already come here. Visitors to Palau predominantly come to take advantage of the unique, pristine environment, and come for such activities as diving. Casinos will give these visitors another activity to engage in, and will also spur the development of additional industries to serve the casinos and their customers.

The members of the conferees are ironing out the differences in the measure.

House Bill 8-18-15, HD14 emanated from the House.

The House conferees deferred the measure due to the several changes the Senate made on the bill which has not been discussed in the first conference committee.

Among the changes made are that every casino business shall be assessed and pay a tax of 20 percent of gross revenues.

Upon approval of the casino license application, an annual license fee of US$200,000 shall be paid to the Commission, provided that when a casino license is issued for less than the period of twelve months of the financial year, the fee shall be calculated on a quarterly basis and paid on the period remaining.

A casino licensee shall renew a license upon its expiration by the payment of the annual license fee.

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