Pacific Islands


The Saipan House of Representatives voted 13-7 to legalize casino gambling on the island after an eight-hour debate to raise funds for the US territory's pension agency which is projected to run out of money next March. Legislators rejected arguments that legalization could turn off visitors from Japan, the island's biggest tourist market, and voted down amendments that would have reserved one license for local investors and turned the role of casino commissioners into unpaid positions.


Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino failed to pay any taxes or fees due in the latter half of May, preventing the island's government from paying any wages to public employees. Many civil servants received only 70 percent of their wages in the previous biweekly paycheck because of payment shortfalls from the casino. 


Senator Hokkons Baules introduced a bill to legalize and regulate casino gambling in Palau, citing a need to attract investment and tourists. President Tommy Remengesau Jr.  however said he would respect the public sentiment expressed in a 2011 referendum where 75 percent of voters rejected casinos. Previous casino bills received presidential vetoes in 2003 and 2009.



The trial of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino and two of its executives on charges of conspiring to avoid filing reports to the US government on large cash transactions has been set for July 15. Meanwhile, because of shortfalls in the casino's payments of license fees and gaming taxes, many Tinian public employees received only 70 percent of their wages in their last paycheck.



Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, prime minister of Samoa, played down reports of the detention in China of Deng Hong, the chairman of Exhibition and Travel Group, the Chinese group which earlier this year was awarded a casino license and said it would build a 500-room resort. “ETG will still have a new chairman and so as far as we are concerned, nothing has changed," he said.

US government agents temporarily shut down the Tinian Dynasty casino, arrested its VIP services manager and charged him, another executive and the casino with conspiring to avoid filing reports to the government on large cash transactions. US casinos, among other companies, are required to file reports on transactions of more than $10,000 but the casino allegedly stopped filing reports in September 2009.



Elliott A. Sattler, legal counsel to the Tinian Casino Gaming Commission, reached an undisclosed settlement over his lawsuit against the Tinian mayor's office over attempts to cut his benefits and his annual salary from $110,000 to $70,000. The suit revolved around Tinian's attempts to encroach on the gaming commission's budgetary autonomy.