Acting governor Ralph DLG Torres said yesterday that he agrees with recent concerns regarding smoking being allowed in Saipan casinos.
Torres was commenting on a recent clamor from community and health officials over a provision proposed in a casino law amendment bill that would have exempted Saipan’s exclusive casino licensee, Best Sunshine International Ltd., from enclosing its gaming floor. That provision was deleted in its entirety last week, when the Senate amended and passed House Bill 19-95.
The Senate had heard testimony from public health officials on how the provision would have exempted Best Sunshine Live from enclosing its casino floor off from the harmful cigarette smoke that emanates from its gaming floor.
Responding to reporters after a donation presentation on Capital Hill yesterday morning, Torres said he “agreed with the concerns regarding the smoking bill.”
Torres said what the Duty Free Saipan and their counterparts need to work on—referring to Best Sunshine’s gaming facility located within T Galleria—is “enclosement.”
“…So I just hope the private entities can settle their differences within the building itself,” he said.
“But sure, it’s safety first,” Torres added.
Health officials testified last week before the Senate that the proposed amendment would be a direct violation of Public Law 16-46, the Smoke-Free Air Act.
Public Law 16-46 allows for smoking in casino gaming floors, provided the area is enclosed. The casino amendment would have struck out the word “enclosed” in the Commonwealth Code, in effect allowing for smoking in casinos in an unenclosed space.
Health officials said that while exemption from the smoking law already exists for the gaming floor of casinos, the law requires that these gaming floors be enclosed. They said eliminating the word “enclosed” from the Commonwealth Code would ratify BSI’s unlawful actions by changing the law so that it may continue to prioritize the desire to smoke over the public’s right to smoke-free air.