Marianas Stars has decided for now to dismiss, without prejudice, its lawsuit against the Commonwealth Lottery Commission and others.
In a statement yesterday, the company said: “We continue to believe that the Lottery Commission, which is controlled by the Executive Branch, cannot lawfully issue a casino license without the prior involvement of the independent Commonwealth Casino Commission. However, we did not succeed in obtaining an injunction to prevent the Lottery Commission from acting unilaterally to issue an illegal casino license. We therefore, now think it best to wait and allow our legal strategy to be dictated by events as they unfold.
“Marianas Stars was aware when we requested an injunction in the Superior Court that we were asking for ‘extraordinary relief.’ In order to qualify for a preliminary injunction we were required to show that we could not be adequately protected after the fact if the Lottery Commission were allowed to issue a casino license in violation of the law. [Associate] Judge [David] Wiseman found that if we could prove the Lottery Commission had not followed the law, we could be adequately compensated after the fact for any resulting harm. That means we do not qualify for a preliminary injunction at this time. Judge Wiseman’s ruling was not, however, a ruling on the merits of our principal claim: that the Lottery Commission has not been following the law. We remain convinced that the Lottery Commission has not been following the law, and reserve the right to assert that claim again.
“When we filed our lawsuit, one of our principal concerns was that the Lottery Commission, which has none of the independence and safeguards of the Commonwealth Casino Commission, had usurped the duties of the Casino Commission. We respectfully oppose the proposed Saipan casino law “fix” (HB 18-195) because it would, at the last minute, transform the casino licensing process from one controlled by an independent agency, with safeguards, into one controlled exclusively by the Executive Branch. Our principal concerns with H.B. 18-195 are that it:
– Kills the referenda that thousands of voters want to put on the ballot
– Still calls for only one license, further supporting the impression these laws were designed with a preferred bidder in mind,
– Attempts to block the courts from being watchdogs to protect the people, and
– Changes horses in midstream at the last minute, retroactively removing all independence and accountability from the casino licensing process
“If the people choose casino gaming for Saipan, Marianas Stars wants to be a part of it—but only if it’s done right, through a fair and transparent process that’s supported by the people.
“Large-scale casino gaming on Saipan will change these islands forever. If it’s going to be done, it must be done right. Rushing to enact a flawed ‘fix’ will only arouse further suspicion—and put the Commonwealth’s future at risk.
“We think we have a better idea—an idea that would double the revenue for retirees, for schools, for infrastructure, for everyone. But it’s only a good idea if the people want it. Please visit www.marianasstars.com to learn about our proposal.”