CASINO INVESTORS IN CNMI WATCHING GUAM

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BUILD-UP
Businesses hope to cash in on potential market

By Haidee V. Eugenio SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 14, 2011) - The Rota Casino Gaming Commission has said that interested casino investors on Rota have been keeping an eye on the Guam military buildup.

"One investor has made it clear that with the Guam military buildup, they will move in fast if things are moving fast on Guam as to the buildup. There seems to be a plan from this investor to get a fair share of the Guam market," said commission executive director Alfredo Antolin.

Antolin said they are also trying to lobby for Guam to open a commuter airport for Rota "so that tourists will travel in a faster pace to come to Rota, like what is in place between Saipan and Tinian. We are working with the mayor of Rota to request Guam to once again open up their commuter airport to that immediate access to Rota is faster from Guam," Antolin told Saipan Tribune.

Rota Treasure Island Casino-so far the only casino operator on Rota-remains temporarily closed due to renovation and lack of clients at this time.

Antolin said Rota Treasure Island Casino was expecting a "surge" of players scheduled for March and April but due to the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami in Japan, "those players either postponed their trip or cancelled for now. Also the regular charter flight from Japan to Rota was also cancelled after March 11, 2011," he added.

The commission recently received a US$150,000 investigation fee from another casino investor, SNM Corp., which owns Rota Resort and Country Club.

Antolin said besides these two investors, there are corporations that have been inquiring about the commission's regulations.

The Rota Casino Gaming Commission recently created its website, www.rotacasino.com, so that investors and the community can get more information.

Antolin said one of the interested investors also plans to set up an Internet or online gaming station on Rota.

On Tinian, the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino remains the first and only operating casino.

Neo Gold Wings Paradise recently informed the Department of Public Lands that it will again pursue its casino resort project on Tinian, with US$1.6 billion in expected investment, higher than its original plan of US$1.2 billion.

Bridge Investment Group is also pursuing its Tinian casino project, so is Marianas Resort Development Corp.

On Saipan where voters twice rejected legalizing casino gambling on their island, the proposal continues to divide the community and the Legislature.

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