House OKs bill giving casinos 24-hour liquor license

Also exempts casinos from alcohol ban on Election Day; allows ABTC staff to carry firearms

The House of Representative passed yesterday a bill that would allow casino and electronic gaming facilities to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. Current rules allow the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants only up to 2am.

House Bill 19-87 HD1 SD1, authored by Rep. Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan), amends and repeals certain sections of Public Law 18-56 that authorizes, establishes, and regulates an exclusive casino gaming license in the Commonwealth so it can address provisions that sets the hours of sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within the casino premises. The bill also includes e-gaming facilities.

“The Legislature finds that it is rational to implement a special casino license that allows for the 24 hours (sic) operation of sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within the designated casino premises within the Commonwealth (Saipan, Tinian, Rota) that caters to our gaming and tourism industries,” the bill reads.

This would be done with the creation of a new Class-8 Special Casino Liquor License.

Aside from giving a special liquor license to casinos and all e-gaming facilities, H.B. 19-87 also exempts casinos and e-gaming facilities from the Election Day ban on the sale of alcohol.

This didn’t sit well with Rep. Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan), who wrote on his Facebook page, “ While all other bars and restaurants and hotels on island are forbidden to sell alcohol on Election Day, these gambling establishments will be allowed to do so. This is beyond unfair.”

Another provision of the bill is it now allows personnel from the Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Control Division to carry firearms. Propst said the provision arming ABTC staff should have been a separate bill.

Aside from Propst, lawmakers who voted “no” to H.B. 19-87 were Reps. Ramon Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan), Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero, Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan), Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), Blas Jonathan “BJ” Attao (Ind-Saipan), Vinnie Sablan (Ind-Saipan), and George Camacho (R-Saipan).

The bill now heads to the Senate for action. If the Senate passes it without any amendments, it would go to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for his signature.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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