Rota Casino Files Lawsuit Against Commission After License Terminated

CNMI developer says it has another 2 years to open facility

By Ferdie De La Torre 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Oct. 14, 2016) – The owner and president of Rota Resort and Country Club filed yesterday a lawsuit against the Rota Casino Gaming Commission and its commissioners for allegedly deeming their conditional casino license expired on July 15, 2016, during a “special meeting” that was done allegedly in violation of the Open Government Act.

SNM Corp., owner of Rota Resort and Country Club, and SNM president and chair Hee Kyun Cho, are suing the Rota Casino Gaming Commission, commission chair Joaquin S. Manglona, commission vice chair Francisco S. Calvo, and commission commissioners Mateo A. Santos and John William King.

SNMI and Cho, through counsel Robert T. Torres, asked the Superior Court to prevent the enforcement of any actions of the Rota Casino Gaming Commission.

Torres requested the court to prevent the commission from holding any further meeting or taking any further action related to SNM, in violation of the Commonwealth Code.

Torres moved the court to declare that the commission’s special resolution as null and void.

Last Oct. 4, SNM received a copy of a resolution passed by the commission.

The resolution states that, “since the issuance of the conditional license on July 15, 2011, more than five years ago, there is still no casino and there is no evidence that anything is being done on this casino project as proposed by the SNM Corp. in its business plan.”

The resolution further states that “the proposed project has not served the interest of our community.”

The resolution also resolved that the commission has decided that the conditional casino license issued to SNM Corp. on July 15, 2011, expired on July 15, 2016.

Torres requested the court to declare that SNM’s license granted by the Commission Resolution 2011-2 was issued on the date of or subsequent to the date of full payment of the corresponding casino license fee (Sept. 25, 2013), and does not expire until at least either Sept. 25, 2018 or Oct. 2, 2018.

SNM made an initial casino license fee payment in the amount of $200,000 to the Rota municipal treasurer on June 9, 2013.

SNM also made a further casino license fee payment in the amount of $200,000 to the Rota municipal treasurer.

The lawyer said the commission violated the Open Government Act by failing, among other things, to provide Cho and SNM notice of the special meeting, failing to provide them with notice of the agenda of such meeting, failing to afford them an opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments in writing, on an agenda item of the special meeting.

Torres said the special resolution was enacted at a meeting that was not open to the public, and not held at a date fixed by law or statute.

Torres said the commission, through regulation, implemented a license fee scheme where a casino license for five years requires payment of a license fee of $400,000.

Torres asserted that the Commonwealth Code requires the commission to issue a casino license as of the date of payment of the license fee.

Saipan Tribune
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