Emergency regs on e-gaming out

Investor says rules ‘too restrictive’

The emergency regulations for electronic gaming operations on Saipan are now in effect, but investor Strategic Gaming Solutions Inc. said yesterday the rules are “too restrictive” and go far beyond the provisions of the two-month-old law, including responding to a request for proposal for the award of 10 electronic game site operator licenses that cost $100,000 each license or 1 percent of net gaming revenues.

“They are too restrictive and can be challenged in court. They go beyond the scope of the law. We will further review the emergency regulations and hopefully the permanent regulations would consider our comments,” Strategic Gaming Solutions Inc. president Juan “Pan” Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.

Under the emergency regulations, only 1,000 electronic game licenses are to be issued annually.

No more than 100 electronic game licenses may be active in a single electronic game facility, based on the emergency regulations.

No electronic games in the CNMI may have a “manufacturing date” before Jan. 1, 2012, the emergency regulations add. This means the date the electronic game was initially assembled by the original manufacturer.

The emergency regulations provide structure for the implementation of Public Law 18-30 or the Tourism Entertainment and Destination Act of 2013 that Gov. Eloy S. Inos signed on Dec. 13, 2013.

The law amends the definition of gambling device “to exclude electronic gaming.”

Under the law, electronic gaming machines are allowed only in hotels on Saipan with at least 100 rooms or, if they have fewer than 100 rooms, should be attached to a golf course.

Rep. Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), author of the electronic gaming bill that became law, said yesterday he has yet to fully review the emergency regulations that are now published in the Commonwealth Register.

As established by law, the annual licensing fee for each electronic game used in the CNMI is $2,500 paid at the issuance of the license, or 15 percent of the net gaming revenues paid monthly, whichever is greater.

Lawmakers approved the electronic gaming legislation, citing the need to generate new revenues to meet the government’s growing obligations including meeting the annual minimum payment to the Retirement Settlement Fund.

Under the electronic gaming law, 60 percent of the fees collected each year will be used to restore the 25-percent cut in retirees’ pension; 15 percent to pay the interest owed defined benefit plan members who ended their membership; 15 percent to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation for the senatorial district’s programs; 5 percent for Rota; and 5 percent for Tinian.

Some critics say legalizing electronic gaming is allowing “stealth casino” operations on Saipan, where casino gambling is not allowed.

Casino gambling is legal only on Tinian and Rota.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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