Video Lottery Reaches Saipan

November 14, 2010

The Marianas Variety reports that 750 video lottery machines will make their way from Canada to the CNMI.  Reportedly, Pacific Entertainment Technology, a subsidiary of Nova Scotia's Techlink Entertainment will operate the gaming business in Micronesia.  PET plans to put the machines in all CNMI hotels and airports.

Pet's officers are president Juan Demapan, vice-president Manny Borja, and secretary/treasurer Jack Manglona.

In September 2009, the CNMI Department of Finance approved video lottery in the CNMI.  The move was said to "pave the way for Bridge Capital LLC to establish video lottery in the abandoned Fiesta Mall. Last week the Saipan Tribune reported that the company was still pursuing video lottery and other projects at the La Fiesta but was waiting for the government to act. (Read more on Bridge Capital and their controversies in this previous post.)

From a September 2009 Saipan Tribune:
In May, Finance proposed amendments to its regulations to update rules on lottery operations, which include “elimination of language concerning lottery activities that are no longer applicable, and amending language to reflect new lottery games.” Among other things, it proposes video lottery operations in the CNMI.

When the latest Commonwealth Register dated Aug. 27 and distributed last week, it included acting Finance secretary Robert “Bob” Schrack's public notice of “certification and adoption” of Finance's proposed rules published in May.

“The DOF (Department of Finance) announced that it intended to adopt them as permanent, and now does so,” Schrack said in the two-page notice, adding that there were five “non-material changes” made to the prior publication of proposed rules.

Inos, who was the Finance secretary both when the La Fiesta RFP was issued and when the department proposed to change its regulations, said that Finance is still discussing the La Fiesta revitalization project with Bridge Capital.

Bridge Capital refused to comment on the issue last week. Richard D. Moreno, business development and asset manager of Bridge Capital, referred media questions instead to Assistant Attorney General James Stump, who serves as counsel to Finance. Stump has yet to respond to media questions.

The effective date of Finance's new regulations is 10 days after compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act which, in this instance, is 10 days after the Aug. 27 publication in the Commonwealth Register.
I may have missed something here. Was there legislation passed approving video lottery machines? Did the Department of Finance actually have authority to authorize them by publishing a change to its regulations in the Commonwealth Register, so that no bill was needed? Legislation proposing gambling, including video lottery machines, was introduced and defeated repeatedly in 2007 and 2008.  The last "gaming proposal" I could find was the "Video Gaming and Entertainment Card Games Act of 2008" proposed by Rep. Oscar Babauta.  I do not believe it passed. The Saipan Tribune reported:
The proposed legislation is similar to three bills rejected by the previous Legislature. It would allow video lottery terminals, as well as Texas Hold'em poker, black jack and baccarat games, to be operated at the former La Fiesta shopping mall.

But the bill, as stated in the text, is different “in scope, depth and content” from the casino initiative rejected by the Saipan voters in November 2007.

“The activities proposed under this act are quite limited in nature, will be authorized only in a controlled and specific location and environment, will allow for the orderly transfer to La Fiesta of all video poker machine installations currently scattered and operating throughout the villages, will provide much needed tourist destination activity, and most significantly, can provide immediate funding relief to our cash-strapped CNMI government,” the bill states.

The first La Fiesta gaming bill was introduced in the Legislature shortly after the initiative was defeated last year. The House of Representatives passed the bill, but the Senate killed it.

The second bill was introduced as a Saipan local bill. But the House on Friday rejected it as a local matter due to legal issues. The Constitution states that only Commonwealth law may allow any form of gambling in the CNMI. This means gambling must be established either by a public law passed by both houses of the Legislature or by initiative.

The third bill, introduced within two months of the initiative's defeat, was proposed as a rider to an appropriation measure. The bill also failed.
Rep. Froilan Tenorio, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of casinos and gambling, has ties with Juan Demapan from the Victoria Hotel illegal casino operation. It wouldn't be surprising if he has been pushing gaming bills to support his friends' financial interests, or maybe his own.


Anonymous said...

The "Law" is only for the disenfranchised, that is anyone who is not a local.
If you are local and have the connections (what am I saying, of course you have the connections) and some sense (the really stupid locals cannot do these things) then you can "game the system" for, well, gaming (oh let's don't be so PC, it's GAMBLING).
This is another BIG way that the "better" local families can take advantage of the "less than better" (because they are all better than anyone else, right)families. Sort of a "Sneetches with Stars" (reference Dr. Seuss)syndrome. The other HUGE way that "Stared" locals rip off their "Starless" brothers is Article 12.
Wendy, I know that you are not nieve enought to think the will of the people matters to a hill of betel nut. It is the will of the "six families" and all of their famaliers that must be preserved at all costs. They control Saipan now and will control for some time to come (although they have about maxed out) The fact that it breaks the law does not matter. The "six families" are the law.

Anonymous said...

Have a casino in saipan make it happen, once the Casino built. all locals should not permitted to enter or play table games or in the machines. Casino should be the tourist only.