Rota investor JMSH LLC, which has announced plans to build a casino hotel on the island, is currently working with the Rota Casino Gaming Commission in addressing “small” issues regarding existing casino rules and regulations.
Company executives said Friday during a press conference announcing the Rota Casino & Hotel project that these issues get in the way of construction which can commence anytime now.
“Until the issues have been resolved, we cannot start construction,” said JMSH LLC vice president Jae H. Hong.
JMSH LLC unveiled its plans to build the $170-million casino and hotel project inside the Rota Resort & Country Club using its “in-depth knowledge and experience” on Rota, one of the three main islands in the Northern Marianas located 105 km south of Saipan.
The company also owns the Rota Germanium Mineral Water bottling facility on the island and is a major real estate developer on Guam.
The Rota Casino & Hotel project aims to attract tourists from China, Japan, Korea, and even Taiwan given the visa waiver program for travelers from these host countries.
When asked to elaborate on the issues, Hong explained yesterday that there are certain phrases involving taxes in the rules and regulations governing the Rota Casino Act of 2007 that have “very unclear” definitions.
These phrases include the use of gaming tax and gross revenue, and Hong said their legal department is now working with the commission's legal counsel to resolve the issues.
“They (commission) were supposed to do a draft and send it to us but they haven't done so because they're short-staffed,” Hong told Saipan Tribune, adding that they expect to settle the matter “hopefully” before the election to get the project rolling.
When asked for comment, Kelvin Hocog of the Rota Casino Gaming Commission said in a separate interview Friday that JMSH LLC wants the gaming tax reduced because of the additional cost that the company will incur in bringing in doing promotions and bringing in players to Rota, among others.
The gaming tax is currently set at 11 percent, one of the lowest gaming tax in the nation, said Hocog.
He said the commission approved JMSH's five-year casino license last year after being in compliance with capital and other requirements.
In other news, Hocog said the commission is planning to meet with the operator of the casino at Rota Hotel.
He said low player turnout will be among the issues to be discussed with the casino operator.