CNMI, Casino Issued Conditional License

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

First step to restoring 25% pension cuts

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 16, 2014) – Some retirees attending the Lottery Commission meeting at the multi-purpose center yesterday urged members to give Best Sunshine International Limited the exclusive Saipan casino license so that the 25 percent pension cuts could be restored soon.

After the public comment section during which three retirees testified, the commission unanimously voted to issue Best Sunshine a conditional license pending the completion of a casino development agreement.

The members of the commission are Commerce Secretary Sixto Igisomar, who is also the chairman, Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, Acting Attorney General Gil Birnbrich and Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero.

Retirees Gonzalo DLG. Pangelinan, Catalina Tebit and Roman Tudela expressed support for Best Sunshine, saying they were looking forward to seeing an integrated resort on Saipan.

Tudela acknowledged that casino legalization on Saipan is a controversial issue but "everybody will be happy."

Birnbrich then made a motion to conditionally award the casino license to Best Sunshine, "pending agreement and approval by this commission on the license and conditions."

Deleon Guerrero said he had thoroughly reviewed the applications submitted by Best Sunshine and Marianas Stars Entertainment Inc. as he thanked both for their interest in Saipan.

He said he was also honored and privileged to review the recommendations of the consultants that investigated the backgrounds and reviewed the business plans of the two applicants.

"I am fully confident to render a decision," he added. "Mr. Chairman, with full reliance on the data that have been made available to this commission, and in the interest of selecting the best qualified applicant, I hereby cast my vote in favor of Best Sunshine to be granted a casino license for the island of Saipan. While I fully understand that we do not have to issue a license at this point, I do not see a logical reason or rational basis to deny Best Sunshine one at this point."

Marianas Stars consultant, Sean King declined to comment.

Igisomar said: "What we need to do now is to communicate with the proposed conditional awardee and work on an agreement and finalize that."

He said as soon as the casino development agreement is signed, the $30 million license fee in the escrow account will be released.

Best Sunshine Chief Operating Officer Terrence Tay said, "A lot more work needs to be done. We have not started yet, but after this we will be contacting the commissioners and starting to look at the terms and conditions of the agreement."

He expressed the hope that they can wrap things up as soon as possible "because now, what stands between us and an integrated resort is a lot of work — we need support from the people."

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