The Pacific Island of Guam needs to approve casinos to avoid losing its tourists to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, where gambling is permitted on Saipan, Tinian and Rota, a leading academic warned.
“We need to use a special request for proposal (RFP) process to get the best deal possible from a single vendor for at least 15 years,” University of Guam Associate Professor Ron McNinch wrote in a local newspaper.
“We should contract with a major international casino with the proceeds going to education and health care. Get over it. Otherwise, we will default many of our tourists to the CNMI. Don’t get me wrong, I love the CNMI, but this is a disruptive change issue,” he wrote.
“Unless Guam wants its airline seats to dry up and go north, see what I am saying with an objective view. Go casino big or not. But at some point this will have to be an important public discussion.”
CNMI awarded a single casino license for Saipan to Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International in 2015, while the defunct Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is seeking new investors. Two other licenses have been granted for Tinian – Alter City Group and Bridge Investment Group LLC.
Tourism numbers to the CNMI recorded a new high in last year, rising by 24.3 percent to 659,741. Korea was the number one source market with a 50.4 percent market share and strong growth of 65.81 percent for the year. In second place was Mainland China with growth at just over 11 percent.