Casino Gambling on Rota:

Posted on Jun 09 1999

Recently, we’ve heard that casino gambling has risen to the level of an option for Rota in its quest to spur economic activities or revenue generation. It’s an issue that only our friends to the south can decide for themselves in the near term. They too want some action to reboot the economic doldrums brought about by the Asian Crisis.

I’m not sure how this industry would pan-out on the tiny isle, but let’s hope that the local leadership has done its homework thoroughly, lest it would be an investment in futility. Uppermost is the question of whether in fact there really is a market for casino from nearby Asian countries. And if anybody wants rock solid answers, we need not travel to distant shores for junket research work. Visit Tinian and learn all about such an industry situated away from the NMI’s business center.

In the Asian Region, there’s Macau and the Philippines, both equipped with the same industry. While Macau may be the Vegas of Asia, the recent rash of mafia style ganf fight has tainted its casino and tourism industries for it became unsafe for visitors. It, however, retains its stature as the capital of casino gambling in the Asian region. Between Hong Kong and Macau, there are diversified activities for tourists, including assorted malls for all day shopping and big time entertainment.

Then there’s daily flights out of Japan for Las Vegas. It’s an exciting experience for Japanese tourists who not only get to see the great US of A, but engage in all sorts of games of chances, international entertainment, shopping in mini and large malls, golfing, dining and other well organized tour trips for families. Vegas has engaged in turning its gambling industry into a worldwide experience, i.e., European, featuring the famous Eifel Tower in Paris or a resort with total island theme of palm trees and volcanoes for Americans and Europeans who wish to fulfill their dreams of exotic Pacific island destinations.

I merely wish to present this highly sophisticated set of competition in nearby Asian countries (who have their acts together) as Rota ponders whether to roll or hold. In more ways than one, it isn’t good replicating an industry that isn’t our forte nor is it anywhere near what’s known as sustainable economic activity. Far from it and let us hope too that some sober minds would organize the pros and cons of venturing into strange territory that hasn’t worked well in neighboring Tinian.

Personally, I don’t see any future in casino gambling for Rota unless its plan focuses on a mini-casino industry that caters to its Guam customers who can easily commute to and from the island by boat or plane during weekends. Of course, while I have my own views on whether such an industry would pan-out favorably for our brothers and sisters to the south, I equally don’t have ready answers by way of lasting investments for proactive people who wish to make things happen. Perhaps a convergence of leadership from both sectors ought to provide the forum to explore what would work best for Rota.

For now, Rota is a famous venue for retirees from afar. Perhaps there’s a greater market for retirement homes over an industry that really doesn’t offer much opportunities for a peaceful island between highly commercialized Guam and Saipan. Its simple island ways could just as well be its brightest and highly marketable asset in tranquility it has yet to see and develop with a sense of appreciation. Well, the dice is in your palm. It’s really up to you to roll or hold.

Strictly a personal view. John S. DelRosario Jr. is publisher of Saipan Tribune

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