Pacific Islands

A petition to gain enough signatures to force a referendum on Saipan’s decision to legalize casinos has garnered 3,000 names and has been submitted to the Attorney General’s office, local media said.
The petition needed the signatures of at least 20 percent of qualified voters, or 3,600 signatures. However, campaigners said they can still submit more signatures on or before July 6 and they are confident of gaining the required amount.

The Native American Snoqualmie tribe has filed a lawsuit against One Hundred Sands seeking to recoup a $1.5 million investment in Fiji’s first casino project, local media said.
The government awarded the license to One Hundred Sands and the Snoqualmie in 2011, but the project has been plagued by delays and the tribe chose to pull out.
The report cited tribe chairwoman Carolyn Lubenau as saying it has not managed to have contact with the developers for months and the lawsuit was the tribe’s only remaining option.
 

An anti casino activist has reportedly filed a lawsuit against a bill legalizing casinos on Saipan. The action, the second of its kind, was filed in a Northern Marianas court. The suit was filed in the Superior Court against the Governor Eloy Inos, the Senate President Ralph Torres, and several others for allegedly violating the Open Government Act in the passage of the law. It requests the bill to be declared null and void. Two casino companies are currently vying for a casino license to build a $2 billion resort on the island.

Marianas Star Entertainment, which has been shut out of bidding for a casino license in Saipan, may appeal the decision, according to local media reports. The Hong Kong business was rejected for allegedly failing to deposit $30 million in an escrow account by a May 5th deadline. The company claims it did meet the deadline, the report said. The rival bidder for the $2 billion resort project, Best Sunshine International, deposited its funds on May 3, the report said, citing a note from the Bank of Guam to Governor Eloy Inos.
 

There now appears to be one sole bidder for a license to run a casino on Saipan after Marianas Stars Entertainment failed to deposit $30 million in an escrow account by the May 5th deadline, according to media reports. However, the rejection of Marianas Stars Entertainment's application does not mean Best Sunshine International will now get the exclusive casino license, as the Hong Kong-based company’s plan still needs to be reviewed, the report said. The government is legalising casinos to boost revenue to fill a pension-funding shortfall.
 

Saipan Governor Eloy S. Inos said the island is considering hiring a casino investigator and gaming consultant from Macau to help review the applications from two investor groups to run a casino on the island, according to media reports. 

Marianas Stars Entertainment Inc. and Best Sunshine International Ltd. have until May 5th to deposit $30 million each in an escrow to proceed with the application.

 

The two investor groups that have officially applied for a license to develop a casino resort on Saipan are backed by Hong Kong companies, according to media reports.

Best Sunshine International Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed First Natural Foods Holdings, while Marianas Stars Entertainment Inc. is partly owned by the new owner of Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, Hong Kong-based Mega Stars Overseas Ltd, they said. Marianas Stars has been incorporated, while Best Sunshine has yet to apply for a CNMI business license. 

 

Saipan Governor Eloy S. Inos said that three application packages for an exclusive casino license have been picked up, but no one yet has turned in a completed package with the $1 million non-refundable deposit. The applicants have a deadline of April 21st to submit their forms, with a further $30 million that would need to be deposited for a license fee by May 5, this year. Investors will ultimately be required to invest at least $2 billion for the casino and hotel-resort which will need 2,000 guest rooms.

Northern Marianas Islands governor Eloy S. Inos said he has been in talks with a group from South Korea and two sets of investors from Hong Kong about potentially building a casino on Saipan, according to reports. The Hong Kong investors include Mega Stars Overseas. Inos said the talks relate to investments of about $3 billion in tourism-related projects. A bill legalising gambling on the island was passed by the legislature last week as part of an effort by the government to raise revenue to close a pension-funding shortfall.

ONE Hundred Sands Ltd says geological testing of its potential casino site in Fiji had delayed the project, but work is now in full swing, according to media reports. Chairman Larry Claunch said the company has paid fines worth more than $800,000 for the delays in the project. “We wanted to let everyone know that we have the results from tests conducted giving us assurance that it is finally safe now to begin," reports cited Claunch as saying. "A casino is 50 times heavier than a normal building which meant a lot of testing had to be done underground first,” he said.

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