CNMI Signs Amended Casino Agreement With Best Sunshine

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Investor to set up ‘live training facility’ on Saipan

By Joel D. Pinaroc

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, March 6, 2015) – The Inos administration has officially approved an amendment to a casino license agreement it signed with Best Sunshine International, Ltd. allowing Best Sunshine to set up a "live" training facility on Saipan.

The CNMI Lottery Commission earlier approved the "concept" of the training facility, but did not sign the amendment pending a final review.

The establishment of the "live" training facility, which essentially mimics what will happen on an actual casino gaming floor, was not included in the original agreement between the government and Best Sunshine, as detailed in Public Law 18-56 or the Saipan casino law.

The signing is seen as groundbreaking, as the live facility is now seen as the first gaming facility to rise on Saipan.

The training facility will be located on the first floor of the T-Galleria in Garapan and will occupy 15,000 square meters of real estate. Just like any casino, the facility will be subject to regulations by the Saipan Casino Commission.

Best Sunshine earlier said the lease for the T-Galleria area is good for two years, starting April 15, 2015. According to the amended agreement, "In no event may the licenses operate the temporary live training facility beyond April 30, 2017."

The amended agreement, signed by the CNMI Lottery Commission and the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of the government, also said the facility will "facilitate stakeholders’ understanding of the casino industry; generate tax revenues for the Commonwealth; provide additional entertainment facilities for tourists; and create approximately 500 jobs."

According to Mark Brown, CEO of Best Sunshine, the T-Galleria is ideal for the training facility, considering the number of tourists billeted in hotels around Garapan. He said Best Sunshine will invite tourists and promote the facility.

Brown said the facility will open "hopefully" by June or July.

License fees

The amended agreement also indicated that Best Sunshine will now pay the government $5 million in annual license fees for the second year within 15 days after the Lottery Commission and the licensee execute the amendment authorizing the temporary facility.

The remaining $10 million annual fee will be paid by Best Sunshine within 15 days after the execution of the public land lease between the Department of Public Lands and Best Sunshine to an area known as Samoan Housing in Garapan for the construction of the 250-room hotel and casino.

The amended deal also indicated that both payments will be made prior to the Aug. 12, 2015 due date.

The 250-room hotel with a casino is Phase 1 of Best Sunshine’s multi-billion-dollar integrated resort plan in the Commonwealth.

Manpower

Brown said people have applied for the training facility, including those with experience in managing a casino, such as dealers, pit bosses, and casino executives to conduct further training.

There will also be a cage director to oversee the operations. A casino cage houses the cashiers and is where players exchange their actual money for chips and vice versa. The cage director will also be responsible to train other casino managers and supervisors.

Best Sunshine has also hired staff for security, cage, and machine maintenance staff. However, he said he would have wanted to get more applications.

The employees hired for the training facility are considered casino employees, the executive said. After the training, the 500 employees at the facility will move in to the 250-room hotel.

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