Saipan lawmakers passed yesterday afternoon a bill banning poker parlors from operating “within 200 feet” of schools, churches, Laundromats, parks, and playgrounds, marking another round of changes to Saipan’s zoning laws.
Rep. Ray Tebuteb’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 18-24, once signed into law, gives affected gaming businesses four years to relocate to approved areas. These could be an adult business park, tourist resort, mixed commercial districts, Garapan Core, Garapan East, or Beach Road zoning districts.
During yesterday’s session of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan) offered a floor amendment that, among other things, changed the accepted distance of poker machines from schools and churches, for example, from the original proposal of 100 feet to 300 feet and, later, to 200 feet.
“The 200 feet is a compromise,” Leon Guerrero told his colleagues, after conferring with Zoning administrator Therese T. Ogumoro in the House chamber on Capital Hill.
Most of the Zoning Board’s proposed changes to the Saipan Zoning Law were incorporated in HB 18-24.
By a vote of 18-1 with two absences, HB 18-24, as amended, passed the Saipan delegation at 3:04pm yesterday.
Rep. Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), the only one who voted “no,” doubts whether there are really designated areas where poker establishments can relocate to, such as an “adult business park.”
Absent from the session were Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and Rep. Richard Seman (R-Saipan).
The bill now goes to the governor for action.
In other news, the Saipan delegation confirmed yesterday the governor’s reappointment of Alicia S. Igitol to serve as a member of the Zoning Board.
Igitol will serve another two-year term.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos re-appointed Igitol on Sept. 5, subject to the Saipan delegation’s confirmation.
Igitol said yesterday’s she’s grateful for the confidence in her by the governor and the Saipan delegation. Her husband Victorino and their children were with her at the delegation session yesterday.