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Casino gaming supported, poker arcades should be ‘phased out’

By Emmanuel T. Erediano SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 3, 2012) – The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands (HANMI) yesterday expressed support for the establishment of a casino industry on Saipan, but it wants poker arcades out of the island.

HANMI chairman Nick Nishikawa of Hyatt Regency Saipan; HANMI vice president Byung Kyu Park of Saipan World Resort; and four members of HANMI board told Senate President Paul A. Manglona, Ind.-Rota, and Speaker Eli D. Cabera, R-Saipan, in a letter that they support casino gaming on Saipan.

HANMIs’ letter came after Gov. Benigno R. Fitial initiated the formation of working groups that will try to address the CNMI’s economic problems.

Leading these working groups is the team of Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider, R-Tinian, and Rep. Ralph S. Demapan, Covenant-Saipan, who will look into the establishment of a casino on Saipan.

The HANMI officials said in their "joint interest to increase revenue generation for the CNMI, we are writing on behalf of our 12 hotelier members to express our support for casino gaming in Saipan."

However, they said:

Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan said the working groups assigned to discuss casino will focus on the pending House Bill 17-240 which is now with the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies chaired by Hofschneider.

Hofschneider declined to comment about the HANMI letter, saying he had not read it yet.

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